Over a decade ago, a powerful entry in the Harvard Business Review expanded our understanding of the continuing pay gap, warning leaders against rewarding volume over value when handing out promotions and pay raises. 'Nice Girls Don't Ask' references a study that saw just 7% of women attempting to negotiate their salary, compared to 57% of men.
Women are eight times less likely to negotiate their salary. The authors point to socialization and the very different score card women are judged against when they do speak up.
More recently, Kathleen Davis' review of 248 performance reviews in the tech sector became one of Fast Company's most-read leadership articles in 2014. She found that while fewer than 60% of men's performance reviews contained critical feedback, almost 90% of female reviews did. More insidious than this was the finding that women almost universally 'benefited' from feedback on their personality while these types of comments were strikingly absent from men's (performance) reviews. The word 'abrasive' was used to describe 13 different woman 17 times but never written once about a man.
A man is confident or assertive, while similarly wired women are aggressive and abrasive.
With this backdrop, it's hardly surprising that women approach potential promotions within their organisation quite differently. A well-cited Hewlett Packard internal report proved that women only apply for promotion when they already feel 100% qualified. Men, conversely, will put themselves forward if they can mentally tick off 60% of the job requirements.
Tara Sophia Mohr expanded on this finding in her HBR report, and concludes that viewing job requirements as rigid pre-requisites rather than flexible guidelines holds women back. This would seem true, yet hearing in appraisals that there's something fundamentally 'not good enough' in your character likely plays its part too.