It’s a fact that women are underpaid. Nationwide in 2016, Labor Department data shows that women earned about 82 cents for every dollar a man made. It’s important to keep in mind the wage gap isn’t limited to the C-Suite, but is prevalent across the board, and that disparity doesn’t just affect women, but their entire families. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reports that female workers who struggle economically often face a steeper climb to prosperity or even security than their male counterparts, and closing the wage gap could slash poverty in half for families.
One way to narrow the wage gap is for women to negotiate a fair wage from the beginning, which for many, is straight out of college. More than three-quarters of employers said recent graduates appeared more confident when they asked for more money, according to a 2015 NerdWallet survey. Flexing negotiation muscle can also demonstrate your effectiveness as an employee.
Carol Frohlinger, JD, managing partner of Negotiating Women, has found in her research that most women simply do not negotiate, and only 16 percent of women she surveyed always negotiate compensation when a job offer is made or during performance evaluations. Ultimately, Frohlinger and her colleagues found that women are uncomfortable negotiating compensation and don’t do it as effectively as men.
Keep in mind that you are worth it. you have the skill set, knowledge, and experience for the job. Assume that your salary is negotiable, and that you don’t have to accept the first offer you receive. Here are five ways you can work to close the wage gap, and get the fair pay that you deserve.
1 – Know Your Worth. DailyWorth.com points how that you can’t score a great first salary if you don’t even know what a great first salary would be — so before you even get to the negotiation table, it’s critical to do your research. One great place to start is with Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth personal salary estimator, that offers a free estimate of what you should be making based on your job title, location, years of experience and other factors that you can use as a baseline.
2 – Exude Confidence. What do you bring to the table? Make a list of your major contributions and accomplishments, quantifying them whenever possible. BusinessNewsDaily.com points out that confidence is essential to being a strong negotiator. You must exude self-assurance, even if you insecure or uncertain. Don’t apologize for negotiating – own it.
3 – Ask. My Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt recently wrote at Motto.com that as a small child, her daddy used to tell her, “She who asks, gets.” And one thing is sure: she who doesn’t ask is guaranteed not to get. Feldt writes the best way to get comfortable asking is to normalize it. “We have to ask until everyone, male and female, sees women’s asking as expected behavior. Ask until it feels normal to you. Flex those asking muscles and they will grow. Create a new stereotype — one that says, ‘you bet women ask.’”
4 – Silence is Golden. Katie Donovan, the founder of Equal Pay Negotiations says that one of the most important tactics to an effective negotiation is learning to become comfortable with occasional bouts of awkward silence. She says that women need to stop selling themselves and simply need to ask a question, then shut up and give the other person a chance to respond. The team at Fairygodboss points out one of their favorite practical negotiating tips from salary experts is to take a moment to be silent when you need more time to react, or think. Or perhaps, you simply don’t know what to say. Silence can play to your advantage. Nobody likes uncomfortable silences and you can use this type of delay tactic to buy yourself time to think.
5 – Make it Bigger Than You. Claire Wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid, suggests that women to think about how their decision affects others, and recommends that they consider how successfully negotiating can buoy the confidence of other women and help close the wage gap. You can also pretend you’re negotiating on a friend’s behalf. Another Harvard Kennedy School study showed that women who did so asked for almost $7,000 more on average than if they negotiated for themselves.
It’s time to change the status quo and work together to make negotiations expected, not defined by gender. Together we need to use the power of our voices, keep the conversation going, and ask for what we deserve. When we follow Feldt’s lead and ask until it becomes the norm, know what we’re worth, and advocate for one another, wage equality won’t continue to be a pervasive problem, but instead will become a distant memory.