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Women Don't Negotiate Because They're Not Idiots

You can't help but hear that "women don't ask," but do you know why? Read More

Steady Tone

Thankfully, I've been able to negotiate (or, simply "State") my expected salary the same way any of my male employees state their expected salaries.
I think the key is to do it as a flat expectation. When I have a male or female waver when asking for a salary, I know that that person has more "room" for me to negotiate down.
I am lucky enough as a female executive to be confident in the value I bring to the table, to expect the same salary I know my male counterparts get. And I have received the requested salary (or better) every single time. (3 out of 3 major organizations hired me as Director or better, at the salary I requested or better)
I think one thing we may be missing is training/mentoring on the "how" we ask. 20 years ago I would have failed miserably...

Right on.

I think there are a lot of good points in this article. I'm nearly 30, work in a very liberal industry, and have had good luck negotiating my salary as a woman. However, it's taken some trial and error, and I don't think I present myself as an overly feminine personality to begin with. Early in my career, on an all-female team of two, my boss would talk to me about my "attitude" problem - people didn't like that I would speak up if I had issues with something. Oddly enough, talks about this "attitude problem" (that my partner also apparently suffered from) mysteriously phased out when we started producing stellar work and were awarded the biggest account in the agency. So perhaps I've tended more toward the stereotype of "bitch" in my work life, but I've never been mean, or petty, or harsh. And it's seemed to serve me well.

Contrast that with a colleague of mine. I was helping her to negotiate her salary when she was interviewing with a new employer. She is very traditionally feminine, very pretty, very sweet, very concerned with how people perceive her. And many times, my suggestions to speak up, or to keep putting her resume out there to create competition were met with things like, "Oh, I just don't think that would be appropriate."

I think women are taught to give away their power at almost every turn under the misguided promise that "people will like you." But no one ever likes someone better just because they're easier to take advantage of; and on top of that, you lose all respect, too.

I mean, Tina Fey said it best, "Bitches get stuff done." It's such a narrow line that women have to walk, but I still think it's better to fall on the "bitch" side than the "pushover" side. You can be a bitch and be GOOD at what you do. But it's very hard to get the job done when you're more concerned that people perceive you as "nice." And that includes salary negotiations.

What a load. Women are not

What a load.

Women are not underpaid when you factor in years and experience.

Also, many women who believe they are paid less than their equal male peers are usually not actually equal.

Women need to accept that we no longer need to tolerate their lack of accountability.

Time to grow up and join the world of competition. You want more money -- earn it.


True story.

I agree with A woman Exec and LR (above commentors), and would further add that it isn't just a matter of "asking for more" is fully understanding the value you bring to the table. It is about understanding why you were hired and knowing you are the best person for the job. If you know the salary range in advance, you honestly take a look at what they offer you, weigh it against your experience and what you stand to contribute, and then decide whether negotiation is even necessary. Perhaps many men suffer from too high a sense of entitlement and this provides them with the confidence necessary to brazenly ask for a higher salary despite the fact that they may not be worth the amount they are asking for....and they get it because HR doesn't call their bluff. But that shouldn't be considered a best practice, because eventually, people will see the gap between their salary and their contributions and it's only a matter of time before they're on the chopping block--whether male or female. In this poor economy, too many people are desperate and applying for jobs for which they are not a good fit; and they know they aren't a good fit, but they really need the job. Work dynamics have really changed over the past 5+ years and competition seems to be more and more about who is the best liar than who has the real experience and skill set to do the job....but that is a separate issue I suppose.

A proposal

How about this for a proposal: If you are not making what you think you are worth start your own business and prove your value.

Stop the entitlement whining and go make it happen...seriously. Prove your self out there in the open, competitive market. Make a better product, provide superior service, differentiate yourself. The sky is the limit if you are willing to make the effort.

I currently work for myself having started several companies and you know what... it is hard but also very rewarding. There is no gender gap here only a risk/reward gap..... Americans today expect someone to "fix" everything for us.

Look at the data

In a given field, female college graduates sometimes earn higher starting salaries than their male colleagues.

And sometimes females tend to choose lower-paying college majors, such as English, rather than say, computer science.

Female engineering graduates earn higher starting salaries than male graduates. I put this down to supply and demand.


I have recently had a geographical location switch. I remained in the same company and got a job in another division. My pay remained the same: I work in human services where the pay is horribly low to begin with (due to funding cuts for human services at the state level. Note for Republican readers: This is not "welfare" money I am referring to.) Being a dedicated career holder in this field, I am accustomed to the pay not being a living wage, and the need to supplement my family budget by other ways such as more than one or two jobs, others in family getting jobs when old enough, food pantries,pursuing child support unpaid by deadbeat dad. I am well-versed with living below the poverty line while helping others. I have lived for years watching the few men who choose to work in this low-paying business (which SOMEBODY has to do!) get constant consistent advancement over and above the women they work alongside, into positions they are unqualified to assume, and then coddled and mentored by higher-ups (gotta love nepotism!) while in the position to avoid anyone noticing the inadequate performance. Much more qualified women (and I'm not talking only college degrees here, I'm talking actual work experience on the ground) regularly get told they need to "improve" more before they will be "allowed" to "try again". The end result of this is women have to constantly "re-qualify" to be CONSIDERED, much less, to actually APPLY for advancement. The incompetent men just have to keep bumbling along, and they receive everything in the agency's power to give them, regardless of their abilities, including higher pay. Salaries for equal job description in this business may show on paper to be the same, but the opportunity to advance,the unspoken approval to deliver less-than-quality performance,and higher job security are automatically given to the men. (It is probably subconscious on the part of many involved in the decisions as they are immersed in a society that still believes men are "worth more" than women.) Where women have to constantly 're-qualify' for things 'bestowed' on them by the men (or women who act like men) in power. (And before you ignorant posters vilify me as being a man-hater or whatever, note that I acknowledge this is not true of EVERY man in the company or EVERY woman, or EVERY company. It is true of mine.) What is even MORE disturbing is that in a field of predominately female (or African) wage earners, the women who DO advance are held to strict guidelines written by men, and the men pay only lip-service to the same. The women who attain the existing positions not filled by men are forced to behave in a harsh and cold manner to compete with the men and each other. It is a cruel, cut-throat business that is supposed to be providing caring attention to people they are responsible to help.
Also, when I changed locations, I only went a geographical distance around 100 miles, and the difference between people's intelligence level was astonishing. My new home area contains a disproportionate amount of people with limited intelligence, and many flags on their property, which also explains why they can't seem to comprehend the inequity problem (or even know the meaning of the WORD!) and why they get hostile when I mention the discrepancy or refer to the eerie similarity to being stuck in the 50's.

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Joan C. Williams is Distinguished Professor of Law at University of California, Hastings College of the Law.


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