To close the gender pay gap women must know and use their worth to negotiate the salary they deserve from the organization they work for. This week, the world champion U.S. Women’s Soccer team’s win shines a glaring spotlight on wage inequality as their struggles for equal pay are well known. An ongoing lawsuit filed against the USSF by 28 members of the team notes that if the men’s and women’s teams won each of the 20 non-tournament games they are contractually required to play, women’s team players would earn a maximum of $99,000, while men’s team players would earn $263,320—that’s only 37.6% of what the men agreed to for the same performance—or 37 cents on the dollar.
The Women’s National Team Player’s Association has proposed a revenue-sharing model that would tie player compensation to revenue generated by the women’s national team for USSF. Showing solidarity for their female counterparts, the men’s national team has issued a statement of support for the women’s team lawsuit against the USSF and for this revenue-sharing model.
Throughout their salary negotiations, the soccer players have used their national platform to make their voices and demands heard. However, the most important thing about their actions is that they know their worth and set a role model standard for all women to follow and benefit from.
Women face unique challenges when it comes to salary negotiations, and as the New York Times reports, it begins with the fact that women are often viewed as “unlikeable” when they do it. Women have been socialized to avoid assertiveness, which is an essential quality when it comes to negotiation, and also consistently underestimate their professional value. That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that women won’t necessarily get what they’re worth, unless they ask for it.
Leadership expert Dr. Marissa L Weaver, Your Leadership Trainer, LLC, is one of the many women working to give women the tools they need to know their worth and negotiate a fair salary. Marissa volunteers through Tri Delta, who in collaboration with the American Association of University Women (AAUW), has launched a national initiative to teach women at 20 colleges and universities how to negotiate their salaries and benefits packages with confidence.
AAUW’s research on the gender pay gap shows that, one year out of college, women are already paid significantly less than men — in 2009, women one year out of college who were working full time were paid, on average, just 82 percent of what their male peers were paid. And those lost potential earnings add up over a lifetime. AAUW Start Smart is specifically designed to teach college age women how to negotiate salaries for a new job. In every two-hour workshop attendees will gain confidence in their negotiation style through facilitated discussion and role-play.
“We get so far behind because we start so far behind,” Marissa said. “From a college woman’s perspective, they don’t know they are supposed to negotiate. Employers are expecting it, but women are afraid to ask.”
The work AAUW is doing to help women negotiate their salary and benefit packages doesn’t end with college age women, the organization’s programming also includes Work Smart, designed to help women in the workforce negotiate a new job, raise, or promotion. Both programs look at:
- How to identify and articulate your personal value
- How to develop an arsenal of persuasive responses and other negotiation strategies, including how to get a raise or promotion
- How to conduct objective market research to benchmark a target salary and benefits
- How the wage gap affects you, including its long-term consequences
Through these workshops, AAUW reports that women are better positioned for success. “Women who negotiate increase their potential to earn higher salaries and better benefits packages. By negotiating fair and equitable salaries, you’ll be better able to pay off loans, buy the things you want and need, and even save for retirement.”
Weaver has had her own experiences since launching her career and was lowballed early on. “My employer expected me to counter. I didn’t because I didn’t know I could. Luckily I was given a raise after a year to help.”
“You can’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth, and what you want.” Marissa added. “Most of the time you’ll get something – a perk, a benefit, or money – you just have to ask. The first time you do it, it’s so scary, but once you do it, it’s so much easier.”
Ultimately, we have the power to change the status quo and close the pay gap, all we have to do is simply ask. We’re in this together, and by knowing our worth and using it as a tool to ask for the salary and benefits we need and deserve, we can change the workplace, our homes, our communities, and increase our perceived value to ourselves and to the world.
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