4 Ways Women Can Close the Gender Pay Gap
Don’t wait for legislation to catch up. Women who get shortchanged in the labour market need to get proactive about reducing the pay gap.
Women are earning more than they used to, getting married later, and generally living life on their own terms – with or without a man.
But despite all that progress, women still earn less than men, even when they do the same kinds of work. According to data from Payscale, women earn 2.4 percent less than their male counterparts. While that pay gap may not seem big, it equates to thousands of dollars over a woman’s lifetime. Among the general population, women make 23.7 percent less than men.
Sure, it would be nice to live in a place like Iceland, where a bill is being introduced that will ensure men and women receive equal pay. But women in other parts of the world can’t afford to wait for someone else to solve their pay gap problem.
Yes, it sucks we have to do this on our own, but women need to take action to help close the gender pay gap.
1. Do Your Homework
You should always have a starting reference point for how much you are worth. Though the exact numbers can be a little fuzzy, typical pay depends a lot on the job’s title, responsibilities, experience, and location. A salesperson in the Midwest won’t earn the same salary as a salesperson in New York City or San Francisco.
It’s up to you to do your homework. Career and business expert Heather Monahan says that, “It is important to research your industry and get an idea of what your male counterparts are being paid. GlassDoor is a great place to glean some insight into what others are making.”
2. Negotiate (Even When it’s Uncomfortable)
There are countless studies that show that women are less likely than men to negotiate their salary.
Shamefully, I’m one of them. I was traditionally employed for nearly a decade, and yet I never once negotiated my salary. Why? Because I thought I was “lucky” to have a job at all after the Great Recession. I didn’t want to appear greedy or overconfident.
During those years, I lost out on a lot of money by playing it safe. In fact, a study by NerdWallet and Looksharp illustrates that those who negotiate are actually perceived to be more confident than their peers who don’t negotiate. So not only will you earn more through negotiating, but you’ll gain more respect from your employers.
“Oftentimes a woman will decide why a company can’t give her a raise before ever asking,” Monahan says. I can attest to this. I worked in the non-profit sector – a notoriously low-paying field – so I just assumed I could never ask for more money. But even if I couldn’t earn more monetarily, I could have still negotiated for something.
“Always ask for more in anticipation of negotiating,” says Monahan. “Remember that when you give up something in a negotiation, you need to get something back in return.”
In other words, even if you don’t get the boost in salary that you want, you can negotiate for more time off, work-from-home some days… You name it.
3. Boost Your Confidence (Even if You Have to Fake it)
Confidence can help you ask for what you want without wavering. It’s hard to muster up, but you can do it. The first step is believing. One unique source of inspiration? Our president, Mr. Trump.
“Since Donald Trump has taken office, I have watched how his high level of confidence and clarity in each of his steps – whether justified or not – has gotten him to where he is today,” Monahan says.
“Typically, women do not move forward with brash confidence and an attitude of daring others to challenge them. What would happen if we did?”
Now, Mr. Trump may not be so inspiring to everyone, but Monahan encourages women to look up to people who have similar strengths, like Beyoncé.
4. Invest, Invest, Invest
Women are good at taking care of everyone but themselves, but in the end, they’re the ones living longer than their male counterparts. As part of that longevity, it’s crucial for women to invest and let their money work as hard as they do.
Women don’t invest as much men, but they will always be behind if they don’t use time to their advantage. So commit to investing today, and let your money work for you and earn higher returns. Building wealth can help you create financial freedom, a sufficient nest egg, and more opportunities. Investing can seem scary, but it’s a smart move in the long term.
Women can take actionable steps toward closing the gender pay gap. Yes, there are certain factors outside of our control, and yes, we need the rest of the world to get on board; but in the meantime, use these steps to earn more and create your own financial freedom plan.