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.
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.