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/

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.