A recent report from Randstad shows that 60 percent of women have never negotiated their salary. In 2020, women make only $0.81 for every dollar men make, according to PayScale’s Gender Pay Gap Report. While a $0.19 difference doesn’t seem like a lot, that equates to a woman losing $900,000 on average over her lifetime.
“Several of my female friends have come to me when they were negotiating salary at the time of a job offer,” said Biola University Associate Vice President of Student Success and Academic Engagement Carrie Stockton. “It was really uncomfortable for them. It felt risky, self-centered and also like uncharted territory.”
Even though all of Stockton’s friends received what they asked for, their salary negotiation instilled trepidation. Oftentimes, women do not attempt to negotiate their salary. Stockton asserts this is not for lack of skills, but rather because society does not train women to be self-advocates.
“I also have found that if I am leading a team, I am more interested in advocating for them to get higher pay than I am in advocating for myself,” said Stockton.
While both men and women should negotiate their salary, women may need to use different negotiation methods than men. According to Stockton, women are socialized to be more compliant, so asking for more than what was given is not socially acceptable. Women often take “no” for an answer, are satisfied with less and feel guilty about negotiating their salary.
“I think that when women ask for higher pay, they display confidence and communicate a sense of their value but, because of societal norms about gender, these messages may be interpreted differently for men than for women,” said Stockton. “Women may be more likely to be interpreted as arrogant when they celebrate personal achievements.”
When negotiating for higher pay, women should not feel the need to “act like a man” in order to avoid being perceived as arrogant. Instead, women should approach negotiation from the employer's perspective of trying to solve a problem. Below are a few practical ways to engage in salary negotiation.
Know the Facts
Women should be informed about industry standards, what they as candidates bring to the table and what the company can afford. Stockton recommends looking at Glassdoor or PayScale to get a sense of what a fair salary is for the industry and region of the position.
“Having information can allow your potential (or current) employer to see what is equitable and provide additional feedback for you about what's possible at this particular organization,” Stockton said.
Negotiation expert at University of California, Davis Dana Hinjosa encourages women to ask for specific numbers and not rounded salaries. Instead of settling at a $30,000 salary offer even though they feel like their work is worth a bit more, ask for $32,100. According to Hinojosa, this shows that women are well-informed about what their work is worth. Losing a few thousand in negotiation can translate to millions over the course of a career. First salary offers in particular often include room to negotiate, and many employers expect new hires to counter.
If during the negotiation, the company responds by saying they cannot afford to offer a higher salary, there are still other opportunities to negotiate non-salary benefits. Women can ask for more time off, more days working from home or other benefits.
Focus on Community
While men are generally able to assert their competencies without being socially penalized, women often need to connect their competencies to a communal concern. A woman can ask herself, “What can I do for this company?” When she has thought through the answers to these questions, her negotiation will take a service-oriented approach that mitigates negative reputational effect. In order to shift the focus onto how her salary impacts the community, she should develop a strong case for how her extra duties are not being compensated.
“Negotiating for your own salary is about community: your ability to be generous in your giving, what your salary communicates about your value to the organization and ensuring fairness for other historically underpaid groups,” Stockton said.
When negotiating salaries, it is important to consider the implications of the person with which you are negotiating. The Muse reports that when women negotiate their salary with a male supervisor, they may be penalized in ways that their male coworkers would not. Female supervisors tend to penalize both male and female employees when asking for a raise. Because of these gender dynamics, it is important to frame salary negotiations around your unique value to the organization.
Pay Attention to Language
Women can convey the motivation behind their salary negotiation by the words they use. When a woman speaks with words like “we” instead of “I” she can emphasize the communal impact her raise will have and her desire for collaboration. Women should also talk matter-of-factly and maintain eye contact to show confidence. Stockton believes in the importance of intentional language.
“This approach allows you to communicate and negotiate for yourself in a way that feels communal,” said Stockton.
Go Forth and Negotiate
Salary negotiation may not seem like a big deal to everyone, especially when landing that first job out of college. However, each woman who negotiates her salary makes a difference in closing the wage gap for underpaid groups everywhere.
Not only does salary negotiation help others, women who negotiate their salary are investing in their future self. According to Stockton, every new promotion occurs in the context of one’s current salary.
“A small difference in pay in your early career can have significant consequences over the life of your career,” said Stockton.
Looking for more help on getting hired remotely? Handshake has some additional posts helping with virtual career preparation.
The Biola Career Center is here for you, even virtually! Schedule a virtual appointment with a Career Specialist or PIA today.
Kendall Jarboe (‘20) graduated with a degree in Journalism.