The idea that women do not ask for pay rises because they aren’t as pushy as men is not true, according to a new study.
Women do ask for pay rises just as often as men, but are less likely to receive them, the study by Cass Business School and the universities of Warwick and Wisconsin found.
When like-for-like men and women were compared, men were a quarter more likely to be successful, obtaining a pay increase 20% of the time compared to only 16% of females were successful when they asked.
It is commonly thought that women don't want to deviate from a perceived female stereotype and fear being less popular at work if they ask for an increase in their pay packet.
However, co-author Dr Amanda Goodall at Cass Business School explained that “the evidence doesn't stand up."
Using a sample of 4,600 workers across more than 800 employers, the research also found no evidence of the theory that female employees hold back for fear of upsetting their boss.
The survey asked employees a set of questions about whether their pay is set by negotiation with the company, whether they have successfully obtained a wage rise since joining the employer, whether they preferred not to attempt to negotiate a pay rise because they were concerned about their relationships, why they decided that, and about their levels of job satisfaction.
The analysis of the findings took into account the nature of the employer, the industry, and the characteristics and qualifications of workers.
Co-author Andrew Oswald, professor of economics and behavioural science at the University of Warwick said: "We didn't know how the numbers would come out, and having seen these findings, I think we have to accept that there is some element of pure discrimination against women."
The research uses data gathered in the Australian Workplace Relations Survey (AWRS) which covers the period 2013-14 which is a representative sample of Australian employees and workplaces.
Professor Oswald said: "We realised 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."
Despite the dispiriting findings, the authors pinpointed one encouraging sign in the data, where young Australian female employees get pay hikes just as often as young Australian men.
Last month, a study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), found the wage gap consistently widens for 12 years after the first child is born, where women receive 33% less pay per hour than men, suggesting gender inequalities continue to disadvantage women.
However, Dr Goodall said that the new research was "potentially an upside".
She added: "Young women today are negotiating their pay and conditions more successfully than older females, and perhaps that will continue as they become more senior".