The average earning gap between men and women in the job market is 20%. This means that men earn 20% more than women do for performing the same jobs and this is an issue, clearly. To be honest, I didn’t realize HOW much of an issue it was until this year. I want to state outright that this is not a blue argument. This is not an inquisition as to whose fault it is.
I am approaching this from a personal perspective and identifying my own self-beliefs – which I think are applicable to the average working woman. These beliefs contribute to the perpetuation of earning differentials.
1. I don’t know what I am supposed to be earning.
I am graduating in December so – as yet I have not asked for an increase or a salary! However, for the first time whilst applying for jobs I am aware of the earnings of peers and comparative salaries for similar positions within the market. I wonder if my female counterparts find asking questions about comparative earnings uncomfortable. I feel that most women don’t ask what they should be earning for the job they do.
This kind of information is best sourced through informal channels. My most informative source on this matter was a male colleague. This is interesting to me, could it be that men have better channels for sourcing comparative earnings (boys club bias), or is it just simply that women don’t have the stomach to speak up and share with one another? Another interesting aspect of this issue may be the quality of the communications between women and their female networks. Are the individual walls that women construct whilst climbing the corporate ladder too high to develop the strength of the connections which the boys have?
2. I apologize too much.
I haven’t truly overcome this behavioral glitch – I apologize for everything, it’s frustrating. (I am sorry if this post is too long OR I am not, and enjoy facetiousness! Sorry doh!) Unfortunately much like gagging is a reflex reaction when swallowing bitter medicine, so too, is the timid female apology when requesting a salary increase. Even though I am aware that I shouldn’t, I still inwardly cringe wanting to apologize for even wanting a salary in the first place. When asked during an interview what my salary expectations are, I have to monitor my composure to ensure that my body language doesn’t betray my need to apologize. I think the need to apologize can be addressed if I realize the value of being straightforward.’Asking for what you want is a skill set that can be cultivated throughout the MBA program, and I am working on it.
3. I seek affirmation & identify a promotion/raise with being liked NOT valuable work contribution.
My salary should not be influenced by my need to be liked AND asking for an increase doesn’t mean I will be liked less.
(Female readers: In your mind, you don’t agree with my last statement, but let’s look at it another way.) Scenario 1: You ask for a salary increase, and your boss considers your work over the course of the last 6 months – and gives you the raise. Awesome.
Scenario 2: (less attractive) You ask for a salary increase and your boss declines. You feel cheated BUT (upside) he/she provides you with reasons why you do not deserve the increase or explains that due to the position of the company – a raise is not feasible. You have derived valuable information from this situation. Firstly, either a road map of how to improve your job performance or secondly, information relating to the well-being of the company and a possible need to seek alternative employment.
Waiting for that promotion or raise or for your boss to acknowledge your valuable contribution to the work processes, doesn’t give you access to this information.
4. I don’t know my true worth.
When I was first accepted to do my MBA, I struggled and asked myself some rather useless questions such as: Why did they choose me? What a waste of time I spent trying to figure out those answers!
Confident people don’t waste time wondering whether they deserve to be promoted – they just go about the process of incorporating the additional capabilities and requirements of their promotion. Choosing to do my MBA in a foreign country without the comforts of a support network back home, has instilled a deep commitment and sense of trust I have in myself. Translating these insights into an actual raise is perhaps the topic of the next blog.