By Pietro Lombardi
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Women ask for a pay rise as often as men, but men are 25 percent more likely to get it when they ask, according to a study debunking the myth women are too shy to demand a raise.
The study, which used a randomly chosen sample of 4,600 workers working for more than 800 employers in Australia, found only 16 percent of women were successful when they asked, researchers said.
"Ours is the first proper test of the reticent-female theory, and the evidence doesn't stand up," said co-author Amanda Goodall, from Cass Business School, in a statement.
The study also found no evidence that women refrain from negotiations over their salary for fear of upsetting their boss or worsening their workplace relationships.
"Having seen these findings, I think we have to accept that there is some element of pure discrimination against women," said Andrew Oswald, co-author of the study and professor of economics and behavioral science at the University of Warwick.
Last year, on average women earned about half as much as men did, according to the World Economic Forum's 2015 Global Gender Gap report. It said at about $11,000 per year, women's annual earnings in 2015 matched what men earned in 2006.
Research for the "Do Women Ask?" study was conducted by Cass Business School, the University of Warwick in Britain and the University of Wisconsin in the United States, using data from the Australian Workplace Relations Survey.
The authors of the study said it was the first to compare men and women working equal hours, distinguishing between full-time and part-time employees.
"We realized that Australia was the natural test bed, because it is the only country in the world to collect systematic information on whether employees have asked for a rise," Oswald said.
The researchers said there was one encouraging sign in the data. Australian female employees under the age of 40 tend to ask and receive pay rises at the same rate as men under 40.
"Young women today are negotiating their pay and conditions more successfully than older females, and perhaps that will continue as they become more senior," Goodall said.
(This version of the story corrects to say women earned on average about half as much as men in 2015, paragraph six).
(Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories)