Why women tend to make less than men and what to do about it!

Linda Babcock studied salaries of men and women who had MBAs.  She found that men receive approximately 7.6% more money than women.  On the surface, this doesn’t seem fair at all, wouldn’t you agree?  A quick view at this percentage can quickly make many women feel insignificant.  As she continued to study this, she asked how many people attempted to negotiate when they received an offer.  Interestingly enough, only 7% of women negotiated for higher pay compared to 57% of men.  For those who did negotiate, 7% received an increase in salary.  The reason women make less, per this study, is that they ask for raises less or they do not negotiate and end up taking what is offered.

I know personally, I have missed on negotiating a higher salary.  At the time, I asked myself if a percent or two was really worth it.  Seems small, right?  If you take that percentage and look at it over your lifetime, that could become a loss of tens of thousands of dollars if not in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  You see, by not negotiating, you are closing the door on the potential for making more money immediately.  There is a cost associated with not asking.  Remember that the percentages in increase you receive throughout your life are compounded.

Babcock states that women don’t negotiate for themselves because of different expectations.    She notes that as a woman, it is not acceptable to negotiate for yourself because that is greedy however a women does feel its ok to negotiate for someone else as this is care taking of others.  Sometimes a woman may want another job so bad that she chooses to take whatever she can to get away from her current bad situation.  So how can women help get more money?

  1. Know what you are worth.  You will not ask for more than you feel you are worth.  What are you worth?  Know your value and be confident.
  2. Do your homework.   Do salary comparisons with others companies that are geographically located close to you.  Do not expect lower wages than a man in the same role.
  3. Make the decision to negotiate.
  4. Assume all salaries are negotiable; think as if accepting the offer is not required.
  5. Be positive.  What we focus on, we create more of.  If you think negatively, you will most likely accept less than you deserve.
  6. Negotiate like a woman, not a man.  Use your soft skills to be gentle and friendly.  Don’t be a push over by any means however do go in there like you have a chip on your shoulder.
  7. Remove the anxiety (uncertainty) in negotiating by doing two things.  The first is visualization.  Visualize how you will negotiate.  Literally, talk through the conversation to yourself.  Second, role play with a friend.  Practice will help lower anxieties.  Get comfortable with what you are going to say.
  8. Don’t settle for “just enough.”  Just like anything you do.  Set goals and expectations.  This is the only way to excel.

What that said, are you ready?  Take these tips into consideration and develop your plan. Without a plan, you will get nowhere quick!  It is time to shrink the gap..The rest is up to you. 

Check out more from Linda Babcock from her book -  Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation--and Positive Strategies for Change