I’m Not That Kind of Girl, But I Should Be

I dislike reality shows. No, dislike is too mild of a word – I hate them. I absolutely hate reality shows. These shows have a way of find the bottom of the pond, scum feeding, classless dregs of humanity that are absolutely willing to auction off their dignity to win. How I envy them.

I don’t envy the skanky girls, or the egghead men. What I envy is their willingness to go -pardon the expression- balls out to get what they want. Yes, it typically amounts to 10 seconds of fame and a few thousand dollars, but how satisfied and fulfilled they must feel to have tried. How much farther in life could women be if we all did the same?
equal pay
Statistics from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research say that women are paid $0.77 for every full dollar that a man is paid. That number is even worse for women in minority groups. For African-American women the number falls to $0.68 and to $0.58 for Latinas. Why are the numbers so crappy? Much of the time, it’s because we’re not aggressive enough with our careers, and it robs us of the equal footing that we should share with our male counterparts.

What’s the Cause?
To be sure there are some factors that contribute to a woman’s total wage being less than a man’s. Women are often the primary caregivers for children, so they may opt for less advanced careers in order to rear children. They may also decide to take extended years off to care for young children and then return to the workforce, thus losing a few years’ worth of promotions and advancements. But what about us single ladies without children? Don’t we make the same?

No, we don’t. There are arguments as to whether women make less due to historical contexts (men were traditional breadwinners of the family), the types of jobs that the most educated women choose, our ability to negotiate salaries, and the big D word: discrimination. It may possibly be a combination of all those. Sadly, we are not as aggressive as we should be, and when we are, the word “bitch” comes knocking.

What Are We Doing Wrong?
A New York Times article in May suggested that when women ask for salary increases, we are ill equipped to negotiate as effectively as men. While men are able to take a direct approach women should “frame their requests in more nuanced ways to avoid undermining their relationship with their boss.” Does this mean that I should wear make-up, smile, twirl my hair and giggle? It won’t happen and it shouldn’t. According to Linda Babcock at Carnegie Mellon University, there are few critical mistakes that woman make when we negotiate salaries. The first is that we don’t negotiate at all. More than 20% of women never even attempt to negotiate starting salaries. Women also ask for raises or promotions 85% less often than male counterparts and when we do, we ask for 30% less than men. It all works out to us doing the same job for less money and it sucks.

So What Do We Do?
Being knowledgeable about these statistics is the first step in approaching a salary negotiation. The more informed you are, the better your outcome will be. The Times article suggests some ways to negotiate as a woman, but quite honestly, if I want to be paid as a man, I’d like to think the way that they do. I prefer tips spelled out by AskMen.com which teaches the guys how to negotiate.

  1. Do your research
  2. Don’t tip your hand
  3. Understand your value
  4. Let the company bring up the salary negotiation issue
  5. Emphasize the benefits of your skills
  6. Don’t blink
  7. Be reasonable
  8. Be flexible
    I’d like to add numbers 9 and 10.
  9. Know your minimum expected salary
  10. Have a backup plan

Guaranteed Results ?
With all things in life, nothing is guaranteed. I just offer this as something to have in your back pocket in case you find yourself in a situation where you have a job offer that you would like to negotiate or would like to discuss your salary with your current employer. Like the contestants on any reality show, you have to at least be willing to play the game in order to win big.

Oh, and since I know that most of you ladies reading the blog are college educated, you might be interested to know that over a lifetime, the differences in wages results in women with a Bachelor’s degree or higher being paid $713,000 less over her career than a man with the same education. Want to negotiate now?

Image found at Rhapsody in Books Weblog.  This post was originally published on 06/29/10, but since I’ve moved into the office for January, I thought we’d revisit it.

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18 thoughts on “I’m Not That Kind of Girl, But I Should Be

  • I hear ya! I definitely don’t want to be in their place, but I do want the confidence to do what I know I can do.

  • My response is to describe a woman who never should have succeeded. She was an immigrant who could not speak English, in the height of the depression, had less than a high school education and without money. Based on that alone, she should have failed! She opened a store in New York City in 1929 and kept it after moving it twice for 26 years. She did not know she could fail, she did not think about anything but making it a success. She conducted herself like that all her life. She died at 98 years old. When she would negotiate with men, she was prepared to walk away rather than receive a bad deal. I learned a lot of my skills from her. She was my mother.

  • @krantcents
    Thanks for sharing. That’s a nice story to have.

    In my industry (technology and software development), there isn’t a lot of female so I can’t comment on that but I can tell you that salary aren’t equivalent between male either if that helps 😉 There are discrepancies based on how you negotiate, what you negotiate and what competition exists when you get your job.

    One important factor in getting paid what you are worth is to show how invaluable you are.

  • I know that I should be more aggressive as well! The funny thing is, when it comes to sports, I’m incredibly aggressive, but in the real world, someone could probably punch me in the face and I wouldn’t do a thing.

    • ROFL!

      I’m the same, very competitive.

      If someone punched me in the face, I’d probably be too stunned to even react. And let’s be honest, I’ve never delivered a serious punch in my life, so if I retaliated I’d probably just break some fingers, or miss entirely.

  • I think negotiation skills need to be taught in high school. I don’t ever remember learning how to negotiate and it’s not something that comes naturally to me (though I’ve been trying to learn!)

    P.S. I love that poster image you found! LOL

  • I really don’t like seeing inequities like this. As a father of a young daughter, I’m now more aware of such things and definitely want her stepping up and getting paid equal to a guy when she gets older. Not something I ever thought about, but have thought about it much more of late based on some things I’ve seen.

    Really, discrimination just stinks all around. Expect equality and behave accordingly, because it’s deserved.

  • I really don’t like seeing inequities like this. As a father of a young daughter, I’m now more aware of such things and definitely want her stepping up and getting paid equal to a guy when she gets older. Not something I ever thought about, but have thought about it much more of late based on some things I’ve seen.

    Really, discrimination just stinks all around. Expect equality and behave accordingly, because it’s deserved.

  • Interesting… I am a supervisor but when a man has a question, he always goes to another man instead of coming to me. Annoying… yes! But what can I do but just laugh because this man still gets directed to me with a sentence “I have no idea what you are talking about, ask Aloysa.”

  • My father in law used to say to me, “You don’t get paid what you are worth, you are paid for what you negotiate for”. It has proven to be true time and time again.

  • My father in law used to say to me, “You don’t get paid what you are worth, you are paid for what you negotiate for”. It has proven to be true time and time again.

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