International Journal of

Business & Management Studies

ISSN 2694-1430 (Print), ISSN 2694-1449 (Online)
Gender Differences in Asking for Pay Raises: The Role of Explicit Rules


Social norms tend to discourage women from negotiating higher pay and cause gender pay gaps in the long run. Drawing on social norm theory and role congruency theory, we expected that explicitly stating rules to determine pay raises would help remove social barriers that may cause women to steer away from the bargaining table. Using an experimental approach, we examined how explicit pay raise rules affect men’s and women’s initiations of salary negotiation differently. Our results show that when pay raise rules are explicitly stated, women are less reluctant to ask for a pay raise. In contrast, men’s decisions to ask are not impacted by this factor. This explicit rule effect is particularly salient for women whose task performance is above average. Our study confirms that social norms for men and women play a role in asking for pay raises, and shows that explicitly stating pay raise rules helps to remove barriers that prevent women from asking by creating an environment in which internalized gender biases due to social norms are mitigated.