By Kate Macarthur
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) So what is “Getting Wahlberged”? As columnist Kate Macarthur shares, “It’s that moment when a woman learns how much more her male coworker got paid because the rules for negotiating weren’t clear, and he negotiated and she didn’t because she didn’t even know that something was negotiable.”
Controversy over the pay gap between Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams for the film “All the Money in the World” offered a defining moment in the fight for gender pay equality.
It highlighted that lack of transparency is a key component of inequity and that men seem to have a special fraternity when it comes to accessing and navigating the unwritten rules of compensation.
Call it “getting Wahlberged.” It’s that moment when a woman learns how much more her male coworker got paid because the rules for negotiating weren’t clear, and he negotiated and she didn’t because she didn’t even know that something was negotiable.
“It’s a great example that there are little moments for negotiation, and when they’re lost, they can lead to meaningful disparities,” said Hannah Riley Bowles, senior lecturer at Harvard University’s Kennedy School and a leading expert on how gender influences pay negotiations. “It’s the lack of transparency about what the norms or standards are that allow for secret or private deal-making. It’s a big wake-up call to women of being aware whether there might be opportunities to negotiate.”
This is where men have a distinct advantage. “The difference between men and women is that women are hesitant to negotiate when they’re not clear that they’re able to negotiate,” she said. Her research confirms that men are more willing to bargain and better understand the social conventions for it. While both men and women are perceived to be more demanding and less nice when haggling, women get penalized for it much more than men.