Do I feel that my MBA helps me deal with the 20% earnings gap between men and woman?

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.


  1. Anik, I feel that part of the uncertainty stems from the lack of comparative information. When you are in a fast moving networked industry, its difficult to ignore the industry shifts. If you are outside of the networked channels, workforce movements are a distraction (at best) and a frustration (worse) and may add to your sense of job dissatisfaction. I would suggest reaching out to a colleague and then exploring the informal networks I mentioned in the blog. Social websites, external to the company you are currently employed within may give you a better sense of perspective of your position from an industry perspective as opposed to just company wide comparison. You may find (hopefully) that you actually have no cause for concern. Because comparisons should be gauged in terms of your individual career goals and objectives.

    In any case, its great to have a skill set which is in demand and as an individual using that to your advantage means seeking the best job opportunities. I say this with one serious caveat: Being the “flavor-of-the-month” should be managed with care. From my experience once your moment has passed, its historical conduct and the strength of foundation and network which is going to maintain your elevation.

  2. Thanks for the owner/employer perspective Jeff. I have held the considerations of the employer on occasion. There were situations where I had seen really qualified chefs, energetic, motivated and such an asset to my workforce, who I could not keep. Their salary expectations were not in line with the salary structure I had in place for the rest of the fleet of staff whom I had within my business. It was a blow to see them leave when I couldn’t afford to increase their salaries. However, for the short time they spent in my “offices” – they also added real value and helped in disseminating additional skills to my core staff. “A little give – a little take.” People will find the workplace they want to belong too. As an employer, you define that work environment. As an employee they decide whether it suits them or not.

  3. This is so true. Many of us tend to apologize every time we ask for a raise or a promotion.
    This might not be related to the females only though. It is also a result of the global economic turmoil. We often can’t judge our own work and the price tag it deserves.
    Also, while working in the IT industry, I have noticed that a job switch almost always brings about a 30% hike but when one asks his/her current employer for a salary hike, it is usually met with a negative answer. This is usually the case in industries with an abundance of talent available with the same skillsets !

  4. 1. So what kind of salary does your position pay in the market?
    2. What are you worth?….and why?
    3. As an employer I must ask myself why should I employ you, S.O, as opposed to someone else, no matter the gender.
    4. It is all and well that you now have an MBA, no matter where from, but is, S.O, going to add value to the company? Does the company need S.O with this qualification?
    Yo may read these as separate questions or overlapping in some respect.

    So if you believe that you can add value to the company then you should ask for an increase or go in with an idea of what you want to earn. Arriving at the desk of your boss with a confident attitude is a plus in your favor. All the other things you mention like your ‘mind talk’ is something you must lose as it is wasteful and takes up too much time in your life. Easy to say stop worrying about yourself, but in essence never guess what people think of you….find out for sure. Inevitably it is ‘ not so’ or ‘I don’t know’, so therefore what is the point of worrying over those answers.
    Anyway S.O, I love you for all your insight and determination. You will get just reward for your efforts but you must enjoy the journey.
    I write this an as employer who has no gender issues, but who wants an understanding & trusting personality to be on the team for the good of the cause.

    On reflection, I don’t even know if you had a question to be answered…….

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