It is still, unfortunately, absolutely fact that over their lifetimes, men are paid more than women. In 2015, women working full time in the United States earned, on average, only 80% of what men were paid. That’s a wage gap of 20%. And with the stalled progress that we’ve seen in recent years, at this rate, pay equity isn’t on the horizon until at least 2059.
The issue is indisputable – numbers don’t lie. The debate lies in the reasons why this gap exists. Is it because women choose lower-paying jobs, or work part-time to facilitate things like motherhood and other care giving responsibilities? What exactly is this gender bias that still exists when it comes to our bank accounts?
I’m of the opinion that there are a myriad of problems that contribute to these stats. There’s a system of patriarchy that still exists in Western society that has spent a long time indoctrinating women on the selfishness of “wanting it all”, with “all” being defined as a fulfilling, multi-dimensional life that caters to a woman’s whole wellness. There is the issue of race, with the gender pay gap persisting across educational levels at worse rates for African American and Hispanic women, whose earning ratios stand at 63% and 54% respectively as compared to white men.
Many of the issues that contribute to this pay gap are beyond our individual control. Companies need to commit to paying workers fairly and being proactive about monitoring and addressing gender-based pay gaps. Policy makers need to focus on providing more compelling incentives for employers to follow the law, and protect workers from the repercussions of challenging their companies’ wage practices. But there is something that is completely within our control, and that is learning how to better negotiate for equal pay.
I absolutely believe that one of the reasons women do not earn as much as men is because we don’t ask for it. Negotiation is a part of our everyday lives. We negotiate with our kids, we negotiate with our romantic partners, and yet for some reason, that hasn’t yet translated into negotiating in our careers. We don’t advocate for ourselves when it comes to negotiating a benefits package for a new job, or asking for a raise in our compensation package. Whether it’s working out the best deal with one of our vendors or getting the best price when we’re selling our business, there needs to be a mental shift to enhance and embrace our innate negotiating powers and getting exactly what we deserve for the work that we do.
1. Brag. Toot your own horn. Hashtag hairflip.
If you’re going to go into a meeting with your boss to ask for more money, it is not the time to downplay your value in the workplace. Be prepared with a list of everything you bring to the table. If you are going into a client meeting, make a list of what sets you apart from your competitors and why you are clearly the better choice. Everything from what revenue you currently bring in to the energy you bring to the environment counts here. Practice ahead of time if you need to, but be super clear and articulate of why it is you deserve what you’re asking for.
2. Decide what you’re worth, then add tax.
Welcome to Negotiation 101. Know what your deal breakers are going into a meeting, and ask for something above that. If you want $5,000 on top of your salary, ask for $10,000, and start negotiations there. If you want three weeks’ vacation, ask for four. Know what you need out of this negotiation, and know what you’d be willing to bend on. Knowing what you want and need is the first step in being able to communicate it effectively.
3. Be the baddest you’ve ever been.
On the day of your meeting, do whatever it is that you need to do to have you walking like the #PrettyGirl powerhouse you are. Meditate the night before, get your morning workout in, put on those pumps that scream BOSS, and go get em!
Do you have any of your own negotiation tips that you’d like to share? Or any other comments about what we can do to lessen the gender pay gap that still exists? Comment below! I’d love to chat!
AAUW analysis of data from Proctor et al., U.S. Census Bureau, Income and Poverty in the United States, 2015
U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements, Table P-38
U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates