Increasing Your Income as a Woman

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As women, we face something called the gender pay gap.  It means that as of 2011, we, on average, earn 23% less than men each year.  Some argue that it is because of the things we generally choose to study.  This is true; to a point.  There is still a 5% overall gap that is unexplained, and a 12% gap when we look at workers 10 years out of college.  (Source.)  So what if you want to earn more as a woman?  What on earth could you possibly do to combat what seems to be such a large, societal problem?

1.  Negotiate from Day One

During your first job interview, especially in today’s economy, it can be extremely intimidating to ask your potential employer to consider a negotiation in starting salary.  You’re feeling amazing just because you actually landed a job.

But by not negotiating, you’re denying yourself money.  And not just money at that first job.  Every raise and lateral move you make after that will be dependent on what you made at that first position, building exponentially.  By not negotiating that first position, you stand to lose an average of half a million over the course of your career.  Have confidence that you are worth the company’s money, and have the credentials and accomplishments to back that confidence up.  Men are 75% more likely to negotiate at that first position than women, so you’re likely not to be the only one asking to get paid what you’re worth.  (Source.)

2.  Don’t Turn Down or Shorten Maternity Leave

Many will also tell you that motherhood is a legitimate reason to cut women’s salaries.  That things like maternity or parental leave decrease your value to society.  This is sexism.  Do not endorse it by returning to work sooner than you’re ready or willing due to pressure.  A look at gender pay gaps in different countries vs. the amount of time each country gives its mothers for maternity leave reveals that there is absolutely no correlation between the two.  In fact, in Iceland, which has been dubbed the most feminist country in the world, the pay gap is the smallest in the world and the maternity leave is generous.  If you’re sitting at home itching for adult interaction and missing your desk, by all means return.  But do not go back simply because your boss is pressuring you.  This is a myth that needs to be dispelled by women’s actions and advocacy for themselves, their bodies and their children.

3.  Innovate

This one isn’t as related to oppressions we face as women, but can be an intimidating thing to get started.  If you want to bring in more money, look at being your own boss as a side gig.   If you’re interested in writing, find people that will pay you to write or start a blog.  If you’re really crafty, start an Etsy shop.  If you have a great business idea, apply it.  No matter what your interest or business idea is, make sure you do research before jumping in.  The more prepared you are to enter the field, the higher your chances for success will be.

17 thoughts on “Increasing Your Income as a Woman

  1. AverageJoe

    I read a stat yesterday in Real Simple magazine (don’t tease me…lots of good organizational tips for dudes too) that women who exercise earn 10% more than women who don’t. The Cleveland State research team hypothesizes that when many are running out of steam at the end of the day or week, those who exercise can go the extra mile.

    1. Julia @

      I’m siding the the “looks” camp, but I also recognize that people are exercise are generally more confident about what they think they can do. physical challenge usually = 90% mental and 5% physical challenge.

  2. John S @ Frugal Rules

    Great points! Negotiating is vital when you start a new job, especially if you’re already facing a pay gap. I could not agree more in terms of point #2, that is wrong on a variety of levels and is time that is given for a reason.

    1. femmefrugality

      Absolutely. I heard a famous financial advisor who will remain nameless the other night advise their TV audience NOT to negotiate on day one because of the state of the economy. Then work your butt off to get a raise. I couldn’t disagree with that advice more.

      And amen on #2. The reason isn’t just psychological; it’s also extremely physical.

  3. eemusings

    Although I’m not looking to start a family I was looking into maternity leave provisions last week – I have no idea how people can afford to stay home (at least in my city!)

    I must admit I have made the mistake of never negotiating. Fail.

    1. femmefrugality

      It can be difficult depending on where you are in the world and the compensation offered to you!

      Well, now you know! I think it just doesn’t occur to a lot of us. Next time you find yourself in a new position may be a good time to start!

  4. Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

    Great points. When I was working in Corporate American I was a VP and one of the few women VP in the Field. I was fortunate because compensation was structured the same for all us and based on performance. But I am well aware of the pay discrepancy women face. It is sad. Gender shouldn’t play a role. Negotiation isn’t always easy or comfortable, but it can definitely help minimize the pay gap.

    1. femmefrugality

      Sounds like you worked for a great company. At least in the way they approached compensation. Before going in to negotiate I’d practice, practice, practice. And with someone who makes you extremely nervous. Preferably more nervous than your employer. That way the process might seem a little less intimidating!

  5. Janine Eccleston

    Really well written! I went to a conference in January that focused on Women in Business and a couple of these points were touched on! I think it’s really important to make sure you are being treated equally to men!

  6. Megan

    Great points you have there! I read a book called “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make that Sabotage their Careers”. It was a really good read.


    Nice article. I agree that women, generally, don’t advocate for themselves as much in the workplace as do men. This may be due to a long list of societal reasons impacting women in general during their upbringing (for example, father’s bringing their sons to work instead of their daughters), but it can easily be mended by following the advice laid out here.

  8. kathleen

    I agree with everything you wrote — women are afraid to talk about money. How crazy are we? I write every week about money — how is it possible that I can’t negotiate? HOW?

  9. MyMoneyDesign

    Great topic! There’s nothing better than a girl who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. I’ve had the pleasure of working with plenty of them. If you want more income, you have to not be afraid to get results.


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