5 Steps Women Can Take to Overcome the Payment Gap

Erica Yitzhak

The gender pay gap statistics for 2015 are unquestionably better than 30 or 40 years ago but there is still a ways to go before things completely even out. By taking a number of proactive steps, you can give yourself the best probability of beating the odds. These 5 steps will not only help you get equal pay, but also help you monetarily surpass your male and female peers alike.

Here’s what you need to know:

Understand the Landscape: The first step you can take to beating the gender pay gap is to understand what you’re up against. The census data from 2014 shows that women earn $0.78 for every $1 that men earn. But certain fields and industries consistently pay women better than others do. Women financial specialists typically only make 66% of what men make while pharmacists and nurses make nearly 90% of what men do. There are other steps you can take to close the gap, but understanding the challenges you face in your industry is an important first step.

Negotiate Early: A Catalyst study in 2011 showed some startling results for new female hires. Only half of men and women have countered their most recent initial offer, but only 31% of women did on their very first offer out of grad school (compared to 50% of men). If you fail to negotiate your first offer, you’re unquestionably disadvantaging yourself over the course of your career. Every raise and every bonus will be smaller because you are starting from a smaller base. Although men and women could both do more to negotiate their salary, new female hires need to do more to more aggressively close the pay gap.

Speak Up: Most women aren’t aggressive enough in countering their initial offer and the same holds true for speaking up once you have the job. If you aren’t aggressive about asking for opportunities, you’re going to get noticed less often and you are going to advance at a much lower rate than your more confident go-getting peers.

Push for Promotions: Opportunities for advancement will not just fall into your lap. But you also don’t want to randomly ask for a promotion when the request isn’t appropriate. Be selective about the times you want to push for a promotion, be strategic about the audience you tell, and make sure to stick to the facts about how you’ve helped the company. Save the self-congratulations for when you’re away from the workplace.

Be an Active Employee: If you have a consistently open relationship with your manager, you are much more likely to be recognized for your accomplishments. Seeking feedback is also critical; you want to know what you’ve done well and what you can do better. If you strive to consistently improve and get feedback, you’ll accomplish better work and get noticed for it in the process!

Image courtesy of http://businesstech.co.za/

Tips For New Mothers Working From Home

working from home - Erica Yitzhak

(source: carofin.com)

Having a new baby is a tremendous joy and blessing, but it also means that you’ll have to make significant changes to your working schedule that will most likely take a lot of time to get used to.  That being said, once you feel comfortable enough and your new baby is settling in, it is a great time to start working from home so that you won’t feel so far behind on work.

A recent article published in Workingmother.com notes that, “Working from home with a new baby in the house means understanding that you need some child care, you’ll have to work around the baby’s schedule, and some days you are simply not going to get as much done as you like,” (Work-from-home Tips for New Moms).  The article goes on to give a few helpful tips about how new mothers can use their time wisely in order to get more accomplished in terms of their work load.

The first piece of advice is to get your baby into a good routine so that you can utilize the baby’s downtime appropriately.  Workingmother.com suggests to “Plan ahead and be prepared to work during your baby’s scheduled sleep time.  Save some shorter, less high-stakes tasks to attend during playtime, when she can be occupied nearby for limited periods,” (Work-from-home Tips for New Moms). Once you have a good routine for your baby, it will be easier to predict when you can work on certain projects. Of course, this routine will not always go as planned, so it’s important to take it day-by-day and do the best you can without exhausting yourself.  Because afterall, you’re a new mom and you deserve and need rest too.

That being said, Workingmother.com advises that new moms should sleep as often as they can, stating, “If you are exhausted, it will be hard to do quality work – and you’ll have a very difficult time enjoying new motherhood.  New moms need their rest and should be very careful to get plenty of it,” (Work-from-home Tips for New Moms).  The most important thing to focus on when you are a new mother is your own health.  Although not working may not be an option for you, some days may require you to take a day of rest, because in the long run you will be more productive if you’ve gotten an adequate amount of sleep.

To read more advice for working at home as a new mom, check out Workingmother.com’s article here.

Balancing Work and Being a Mom

Mayim Bialik working mom

Mayim Bialik shares the difficulties of being a working mom, finding it difficult to balance her busy work schedule and parenting.

Mayim Bialik most difficult challenge is not contending with the contemptuous Sheldon Cooper, as is the most difficult task for her character on the incredibly popular show The Big Bang Theory.  In Bialik’s personal life, she has a much more realistic and relatable challenge to meet—managing to work a daily job and take care of her two sons, named Miles and Frederick, according to an article recently completed by Who Say.

However, simply balancing work and parenting isn’t the only complication in the process for Bialik.  She and the children’s father, Michael Stone, have been split for over two years.  Combining the shared custody with the demands of being on one of the most popular shows in the nation is anything but an easy task.  It often results in Bialik missing events she wishes she could’ve attended and seen to.  For instance, in a recent interview with People, Bialik acknowledged that the last time she cried was when Stone sent her pictures of their sons dressed as Ghostbusters for a Halloween event at a local fair.  She attributes her reaction to two separate things—she does believe she is relatively sentimental, but it is also the fact that she dislikes not being able to experience these events right with her children.

Knowing this fact and the demands of her filming schedule, Bialik is forced to accept the fact that co-parenting is simply going to be crucially important to her life.  She and Stone work hard to insure that their children never miss a beat of childhood.  To make sure this goal is met, Bialik and her ex-husband must work just as hard in perfecting their means of communication, in a way that may not have even been required in their marriage.

Working Moms in France

France

Individuals surprised by the way France caters to their working mothers.

When you think France, you probably think of fresh baguettes, the eiffel tower, some of the best wine in the world, and the never-ending touching and kissing in the metro – yes, love.  The French are known for their uncanny abilities to love; but what comes after love (well, most likely) – babies.  And how does the French progressive government cater to working women who decide to have babies?  Well, you might be surprised to find out some of the hard facts.

Claire Lundberg, a literary scout and writer who moved to Paris from New York City two years ago after having her first baby, recently published an article entitled It’s Amazing to be a Working Mom in France- Unless You want a Job.  This article discusses the hypocrisies hidden within the French government when it comes to mothers in the workforce; how France supports women who have babies and then punishes them for it when it comes to maintaining stable jobs and titles within those jobs.  Lundberg explains how “France has both the highest birth rate in Europe and one of the highest percentages how women in the workforce,” (Lundberg, It’s Amazing to be a Working Mom in France- Unless You want a Job), going on to explore how this fact is quite deceiving, from both her personal experience as a mother trying to get a job in France and with interviews and research conducted concerning this particular topic.

Lundberg states how the French government is more than supportive of women having babies in France, from the four-month long maternity leave a woman is given to bare her first child, to inexpensive healthcare, to the five week vacation period that employees are given.  The French government system makes it not only manageable, but easy for women to recuperate and enter back into the workplace after giving birth.  So, when going in for an interview with a company she was exceptionally interested in working for, Lundberg was shocked with the interviewer’s reaction after she found out about Lundberg’s child:

“What followed was a long discussion of my child care situation, who cared for my daughter during the week, and for how long, and if I’d have to leave work early to pick her up.  Then she asked how old I was, and if I was planning to have more children.  I felt myself cringing – why was this coming up, and in such detail so early in our discussion?  Would you even be allowed to ask these questions in the United States? (No.)  My French became emphatic, Neanderthal like, as I tried to assure her I wouldn’t leave at 6 p.m. every day: ‘I can hire a nanny.  I want to work at a job I like, not just leave every day at six hours.’  Eventually, either impressed by my vehemence or appalled at my French, she dropped the subject.  And though I haven’t heard one way or another I’m pretty sure the possibility of hiring me got dropped as well,” (Lundberg, It’s Amazing to be a Working Mom in France- Unless You want a Job).

Lundberg’s article followed the results of this interview with very personal statements on Lundberg’s views on French policies of working mothers, and equated them with the general public’s standpoint on them (including how people view mothers who work in the U.S.).  She exclaimed how although most women don’t want to admit it, employers view mothers who are applying to jobs much differently than if they weren’t mothers in the first place. As a 30 year-old woman, it is likely that Lundberg will get pregnant again, but she wants to be able to live in France as both a mother and an employee, but what are the chances she can reach the level of success she knows she is capable of attaining?  Discriminating women during interviews based on their answers so personal questions is illegal, but unfortunately it’s extremely hard to prove that the discrimination exists in the first place.

In terms of gender equality in the workforce, France ranks more poorly than you’d expect for a government who has shown consistent progression throughout the years.  According to Lundberg, “In its 2012 Global Gender Gap Index, the World Economic Forum ranked France a shocking 57th, behind most other European countries, the United States (too low at No. 22), Jamaica, and Russia,” (Lundberg, It’s Amazing to be a Working Mom in France- Unless You want a Job).  So why does a country like France experience such high percentages in basic inequalities within the workplace?  To start with, the way France promotes women to have babies proves to actually set them back when it comes to holding a job, especially in comparison to men.  Lundberg states, “Paid maternity leave increases with the number of children, from 16 weeks for one or two children to 26 weeks for three or more… Thus much guaranteed leave can make employers nervous to hire and promote women,” (Lundberg, It’s Amazing to be a Working Mom in France- Unless You want a Job).  And it’s no wonder, because when a woman employee has four children, it means she’s been out of work for at least a year and half.

In comparison to working mothers in the United States, both countries are in difficult circumstances in terms of finding balance between work and being with their children.  But, unlike France, there is no guaranteed maternity leave or health insurance in the United States, which enables working mothers to be directed out of the workforce even more easily than those in France.  So, how can the workforce come to terms with hiring mothers in a manner that doesn’t prohibit them from reaching their utmost success?  For now, there has not been an answer, but participating in discussions is sure to get the word out and express how working mothers feel when it comes to their jobs.  Lundberg ends her article by speaking for working mothers around the world, saying, “What I really want is to find a new job, one where the fact that I’m a parent isn’t a liability,” (Lundberg, It’s Amazing to be a Working Mom in France- Unless You want a Job).

To read Claire Lundberg’s full article on working mothers in France, click on this link.

Make A Working Mom Happy!

erica-yitzhak-working-mom

Margie Warrell’s Letter to Working Mothers

Margie Warrell’s Letter to Working Mothers

Every working mother should read Margie Warrell’s Letter, “Letter To Working Mothers: Stop Feeling So Guilty.”

In a recent article published in Forbes Magazine, Margie Warrell writes a letter to an anonymous working mother, extenuating the idea that all working mothers across the globe should let go of their feelings of guilt towards being a mother who also has a job.

The first thing Warrell does in her article entitled, Letter To Working Mothers: Stop Feeling So Guilty is compliment the “working mother,” simply by stating, “You are doing a great job.”  This starts the article on a positive note, sharing with working mothers something they need to hear more often – praise.  Many mothers who work are often neglected for their double duties as both business women and mothers, most people see them as either “moms” or “businesswomen,” addressing them as one of the other.  From the start, Warrell confronts the difficulties that women face with being more than just one single-minded person.  Working mothers don’t just attend company meetings and dedicate themselves towards making money.  No, they should be recognized for retaining the information given at work after a long, sleepless night taking care of their child with night terrors, or perhaps staying up waiting for a high school teenager to walk through the doors of their home.  But, a working mother also works.  So she does, indeed, do both – she can actively participate in her job field while also taking care of her children.  The combination of these two things makes up her being.

The next thing Warrell does in her letter to working mothers is use pathos, the literary term for appealing to her audience emotionally.  She does this by addressing the thought process of what goes on in a working mothers mind, she shows not only sympathy, but empathy.  And how does she use pathos so effectively?  Because Warrell is a working mother.  She writes:

“If you are like most working moms I know, you may feel like you’re forever coming up short when it comes to doing enough, giving enough and being enough for your kids.  Not to mention your boss, your partner, your aging parents and extended family, and yes, of course, your community,” (Letter to Working Mothers, Forbes Magazine).

Warrell knows what is going on inside a working mothers mind, because she too has experienced these truthful feelings.  These feelings of not being good enough for anybody because there are so many people to take care of.  But, by connecting with her audience, Warrell offers some sort of comfort, later going on to give advice about how to cope with the duality of being an employee and being a mother.

This may just be one of Forbes Magazine’s most powerful pieces, connecting with the working mother on a sentimental level, offering praise and advice on how to deal with these specific hardships that only working mothers can understand.  To read Warrell’s entire article, click this link. And remember, especially if you are a working mother yourself, let go of the guilt and know that you are loved.

How to Balance Work and Family

balancing work and family

It can be tough balancing family time and work, but with some careful planning, it can certainly be done.

Now more than ever with new policies and viewpoints enacting equal gender roles, more mothers are part of the workforce.  But, being a mother is a full-time commitment and can cause a lot of stress when working becomes part of a daily routine.  According to an article published in AmericanProgress.org, “women now make up half of all workers in the United States, with nearly 4 in 10 homes having a mom that is also a working mother.”  With such a significant increase in the amount of mothers in the workforce, many moms experience feelings associated with guilt.  But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways mothers can balance possessing a profession and being a great mom.  Here are a few tips on how to do so:

For starters, creating a family calendar is an extremely beneficial way to organize how you spend your time.  Always know your own family’s priorities and map out all the dates of important events like teacher meetings, birthdays, sports games, so that you can be on top of it when it comes to being there for your children.  Make sure you talk with your boss before hand if you know of any events so that he or she does not get upset if you need to leave work early one day.  The Founder and Chief Development Officer for Children’s Creative Learning Center, Fran Durekas, gives working mothers the suggestion to “set aside fifteen minutes each Sunday to review and prepare for the upcoming week’s schedule.  This helps eliminate surprises during the week.  Families should share the calendar with their babysitter or nanny so that everyone is up-to-date on activities.”  Remember, being organized is the key to balancing out your work life and your at home life as a mother.

A second piece of advice for mothers in the workforce is to find safe and reliable care for your children, especially if you work during the nighttime when kids are not in school.  Ask around your own neighborhood for nanny, babysitter, and daycare references.  Take the time to develop of list of traits you’re looking for in the person (or people) who care for your children when you’re not around.  Make sure, before you hire anyone, that they know about all afterschool activities, playdates, food allergies, and other important medical information applicable to your children.  You should be looking for a child care provider that has had experience and is committed to families; but most importantly, be sure you trust them.

The last, and probably most important piece of advice for working mothers is to let go of the guilt.  Don’t dig yourself into a whole thinking about not being with your child, and instead think about how hard you are working to provide a great life for your family.  Financial support goes a long way, especially when you have to send your child to college or pay for other educational facilities he or she may need.  Lisa Pierson Weinberger, a lawyer and founder of the website Mom, Esquire says that: “the most successful career moms have found ways to be efficient in both worlds – and that requires being able to come to terms with choices and focus on the priorities that are in the moment.”  All mothers must learn at some point to leave their child in another’s hands, and should feel positively toward their own selves that when they are at work, they are making a living for not only themselves, but for their family.

For more helpful tips on how to balance being an employee and a mother, read this article provided by Parents.com.

The Not So Super Nanny Review

Erica Yitzhak Knows how hard it is to find good help

Erica Yitzhak Knows how hard it is to find good help

While scouring the internet looking for “Nanny Nightmare” stories I was able to stumble upon an article written by Katie Wallace entitled “The Not So Super Nannies” and her experience on trying to find the right nanny to fit in with her family to take care of her newborn child. She talks about how she “wanted Mary Poppins to float down from the sky and land on my doorstep” with an offer that she thought she couldn’t refuse, allowing her to return to the workforce much sooner than she had anticipated.

Katie tried to stay a step ahead in the game, by trying to get a plan in place while she was pregnant with her child in the summer. She realized that she was going to not be able to get her kid into the top day-care centers in Los Angeles, so she enlisted the help of her mother and three agencies to try to find the right nanny for her kids. During her two-week mad quest, she interviewed dozens of candidates before finally deciding to narrow her choice down to one nanny.

Preparing to offer the candidate the job, Katie asked her if there was anything she might like in the house as far as snacks are concerned. The candidate had something different in mind, giving her a full on grocery list that included  “Sanka coffee, white bread, frozen waffles, Lucky Charms, etc,” (Wallace, The Not-So-Super Nannies). But that isn’t all. The agency that put the candidate up informed Katie that the nanny has had a DUI in the previous months. They mentioned it because they do not screen potential clients until after they are about to be hired. In trying to cover their own skin, the agency claimed that the nanny was very “very forthcoming with us. She told us right from the start,” (Wallace, The Not-So-Super Nannies). If that was the verdict, why didn’t they inform her until after she was ready to hire her? Seems a little fishy to me.

Katie, understandably, was really peeved that the agency withheld this important information and didn’t bother to tell her about it. She makes a great point that it wasn’t like the incident happened when she was young and immature, but only happened a few months prior, and this was someone that she was going to trust to take care of her newborn son. She wrestled with this decision because it seemed like her son had already taken a liking to her, but Katie went with her gut instincts and decided to not hire her.

Tales of Negligent Caretakers

Erica Yitzhak Sad Child

Sad Child

While searching the web I have run into a slew of horror stories about nannies that will shock you. It’s always nerve-racking to leave your child in the care of someone else, but after these stories you will think twice about who you are letting raise and care for you child. These stories of law-breaking, abusive and negligent caretakers explain why it is a scary world out there. And these nannies were caught red handed in the act.

A North Carolina mother hired a nanny after her twins were prematurely born and not healthy enough to go into daycare. Upon hiring the nanny, Lindsay Addison installed a hidden nanny cam that was disguised as a clock to monitor her children while she was at work. But what she ended up seeing was disgusting. The hired nanny was seen loosely carrying the 7-month-olds under her arms, letting them dangle upside down. The nanny was fired immediately and was charged with two counts of child abuse. The said nanny eventually entered an Alford plea in court, which “does not admit guilt but acknowledges that there was enough evidence to convict her of the charges.”

In Jacksonville, Florida, parents of two toddlers decided to install a nanny cam in their after coming home and finding one of the two toddlers had a black eye. The nanny at the time said that she could not explain where the black eye had come from. The Jacksonville parents decided to fire their nanny of two years and later watched the tape from the nanny cam. What they saw was disturbing to say the least. The parents watched in horror as they saw the nanny picked up and slung their child into the playpen, was hit in the face with a ball, slapped, hit with a towel, swatted at and kicked. Luckily the child only received a bruise and a split lip. The nanny was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

Working Mothers Don’t Have to be Sorry

Maxed Out

Maxed Out

According to “Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink,“ most American moms that work outside of their homes are perpetually sorry for all of the ways that they feel like they are failing their families, bosses and most of all themselves. Katrina Alcorn, who wrote “Maxed Out,” tells the tale of the amount of time she “Maxed Out” after the birth of her youngest child. Katrina, a web design executive, was finding herself working five days a week while carrying the burden of shuttling three young children around through their hectic schedules. One day she pulled off the road as she was having a crushing panic attack and called her husband saying that she couldn’t “do it anymore.”

This story isn’t just about Katrina hitting her breaking point, but the collective of American working women. She was informed by her childrens pediatrician that on average, most children get anywhere between “8 to 10 colds and fevers a year.” So Katrina most try to balance a possible 30 sick days for her children with her allotted 6 sick days a year from work and because her husband works as a freelance designer, he has no sick days. On top of that, the school and preschool hours for her children don’t come close to covering a whole work day in hours for either her or her husband.

Because of this chaotic schedule, they are left with trying to find unique ways to get everything done on a day-to-day basis. They have created elaborate spreadsheets for each week that covers all aspects of daily life while adding in doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping and chores around the household. The cost of preschool and day care takes a huge chunk out of their budget, which means every work decision for her and her husband means redoing the math on their budget. Even though Katrina feels completely alone going through this, she realizes that this problem isn’t unique to just her and her circumstances.

In an excerpt from her book, Katrina states that:

 “When were we supposed to make time for all this stuff — the stuff that was part of living a normal life but didn’t seem to fit into our normal life? Someone had to collect the paperwork to refinance the mortgage when the interest rates dropped. Someone had to pick up the dry cleaning, get the oil changed, buy stamps, organize family photos, get our taxes ready, plan birthday parties, RSVP for other kids’ birthday parties, buy and wrap the party gifts, shop around for life, car, and home insurance, stock the earthquake kit, bake brownies for Martha’s basketball team potluck, take Ruby to her swim lessons, poison the ants, buy Jake a raincoat, return the overdue library books and princess movies, invest our retirement savings, chaperone Ruby’s field trip, and pay the bills.”  (Dell’antonia, Being a Working Mother Means Always Having to Say You’re Sorry)

Katrina believes that working mothers are often times too apologetic for our failures, whereas fathers are not. We often times tend to overanalyze and examine ourselves as parents, instead of looking at the extenuating circumstances, such as working late hours, the “every-man-for-himself” attitude towards finding and funding child care during working hours, the lack thereof in paid maternity or paternity leave and the small amount of paid sick leave per year. All of these circumstances contribute to the sense that many working parents, mostly mothers, have to constantly run around and going from place to place.