If asking for a raise were a less daunting prospect, perhaps more people would do it. But it takes guts to talk money with your boss, which explains why 56% of employees have never done so.

Still, when it comes to braving the salary boost discussion, men seem to have an advantage over women. In fact, 64% of men claim they're comfortable negotiating raises, according to a new report by Student Loan Hero. When it comes to women, however, only 50% feel confident going into those talks.

These attitudes toward talking money could help explain why a wage gap continues to persist among male and female employees. Women are said to earn anywhere from $0.72 to $0.82 for each dollar their male counterparts bring in, all other things (such as job title and qualifications) being equal.

Close-up of a woman biting her nails.

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If you've historically shied away from asking for more money at work, it's time to step up and speak up for yourself. Otherwise, there's a good chance you'll lose out on income that could've otherwise been yours.

Go in knowing your worth

A big reason so many people fear the raise talk is that they feel they'll be laughed out of the room. But if you come in equipped with salary data that proves that you're underpaid, your boss will have a harder time denying or dismissing your request. So do some research to find out what you're really worth, and then use that information to build your case.

Highlight your accomplishments

Your boss may not be willing to give you a raise just for the heck of it, so before you go into that conversation, make a list of the ways you add value to your company. Maybe you're that person who consistently resolves technical issues when systems break. Maybe you're extremely adept at writing contracts, thereby saving your company money. No matter what it is you do that makes you an essential employee, don't be afraid to talk it up in your boss's presence. And if you can back up your claims with hard numbers (say, that your actions alone saved your company $200,000 this past year), even better.

Be prepared to leave

If you go into that raise conversation with a solid argument and strong data, there's a good chance you'll come out successful. At the same time, recognize that that may not end up happening, in which case it certainly pays to get comfortable with pursuing outside opportunities. Now, this isn't to suggest that you should quit on the spot if that discussion doesn't end up going well. But if you open yourself up to the possibility of moving on should your boss refuse to budge on salary, you'll be less nervous going into that conversation.

The more comfortable you are negotiating a raise, the greater your chances of boosting your income and walking away with a fair wage. So don't shy away from that conversation -- because if you do, and your earnings remain stagnant, you'll really have no one but yourself to blame.

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