In 2003, Linda Babcock, an academic at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, discovered an alarming truth. Male graduates from the university’s highly respected MBA programme were earning, on average, 7.6 per cent more than their female counterparts. The stats seemed to imply serious sexism in leading companies.
Yet closer inspection revealed that the problem was not the bigotry of employers but the different ways that graduates reacted to initial salary offers. Only 7 per cent of women tried to negotiate, leaving them stuck on the initial offer. The majority of men, on the other hand, bargained fiercely, increasing their initial offer by 7.4 per cent. This difference accounted for almost the entire pay gap.
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