We often hear about how women are still, inconceivably, being paid less per dollar then men. The blatant underpayment is a residual of institutionalized sexism that is an ingrained part of this country’s history. But what you may not know is that there are a few other ways that your gender may be affecting your pay…and not in a good way.
1. Body Language
People will infer a lot about each other based on body language. The way you carry yourself can reveal whether you are uncomfortable, nervous or intimidated. This rule holds true in all facets of life, including professionally. We’ve all heard repeatedly about the importance of a confident handshake. The handshake is a key part of the first physical perception we have of each other. And a strong, confident, palm to palm handshake will convey honesty and self-assuredness. Remember this as you meet to discuss compensation with a potential employer.
2. You’re Too Nice
Unfortunately, biased in the workplace is a real thing. And I’m sure you’re no stranger to the idea that a woman who asserts herself is often perceived of negatively. Women are expected to be nice and accommodating which could mean that any attempt you make to fight for more compensation may be frowned upon. Research indicates that, sadly, women are penalized, more so then men, for initiating salary negotiations. Fortunately, there are tactics to take with you into the conference room if you’re ready to ask for more money. Start by researching what you’re worth professionally and go into a meeting armed with current, correct information. Be polite, yet firm, and treat the negotiation as a mutually respectful exchange of information.
3. You Waited for Someone Else to Introduce Salary Negotiations….and They Never Did
While educating yourself on the art of negotiation, remember that the best time to discuss salary is during the final stages of the interview process for a new job. Accepting a low starting salary for a job sets you up for a career of playing compensation catch up. Some employers will say that salary is negotiable in a job posting; most will not. But even if you don’t see the word ‘negotiable’ in the job description, you should still be reluctant to accept the first salary you are offered, because chances are they are not coming to the table with the big number right away. Men are more likely to discuss salary without waiting for an invitation, and it’s time we followed suit.
4. When You Did Negotiate, You Had the Wrong Focus
A sure way to sabotage salary negotiations is to frame the salary talks around personal needs. No matter how much you think your boss likes you, he or she is not going to give you a raise because you want to buy a new car, or enroll your child in a costly private school. Getting a salary increase is about why you deserve a raise, not why you need a raise. Talk about your accomplishments, the value you bring to your organization, or ways you’ve saved money on the job. Bringing a personal element into the conversation may have the unwanted consequence of making your boss extremely uncomfortable and is not at all a strong negotiating tactic.
5. It Might Just Be Where You Live
According to a recent Forbes.com ranking of the top cities where women earn the most, Washington, D.C.; San Jose, CA; and Bridgeport, CT are at the top of the list for earning potential for women. While the numbers were discouraging for cities where women earn as much as or more than men (there are only four such cities) the findings suggest that urban areas with top-rated colleges and universities and a high concentration of professional jobs requiring highly developed skills help to push up salary figures for women. Consider these facts if you should ever be looking to relocate for work.