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Women May Need to Negotiate Salary Differently Than Men

Topics: Negotiation
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The first thing to know about salary negotiation is that it makes a difference when it comes to pay. Seventy-five percent of workers who negotiate receive a pay increase. Also, the benefits of negotiation extend beyond what’s immediately obvious. Consider the cumulative impact of a higher salary. A raise increases next year’s earnings — and potentially every subsequent year’s, as well.

“I tell my graduate students that by not negotiating their job at the beginning of their career, they’re leaving anywhere between $1 million and $1.5 million on the table in lost earnings over their lifetime, said Linda Babcock, an economist from Carnegie Mellon University, in an interview with NPR.

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Yet, women are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to negotiating salary. The 2006 Bowles study found that both men and women are less likely to want to work with or hire women who negotiate their salaries. The effect was 5.5 times higher than the impact men faced when they negotiated.

There are many reasons why women may need to negotiate salary a little bit differently than their male counterparts. Here are a few tips for going about it in the most effective way possible:

Understand the Real Salary History Trap

Women who are forced to give their salary history may be locked into a cycle of accepting less than their worth, perpetuating the gender pay gap. Some states and cities have enacted or are considering laws that forbid employers from asking about prospective employees’ earnings as a result.

However, women are also punished financially when they refuse to answer the question. According to PayScale’s report, Is Asking for Salary History … History?, men who refuse to disclose their salary history earn 1.2 percent higher salaries than men who reveal past pay. Women who do the same suffer a 1.8 percent decrease in pay compared with women who answer the question.

It’s a good idea for individuals to think about how they’ll handle questions about salary history in advance so that they are prepared. Determining what’s best is complex — especially for women. PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide offers advice on how to deal with the question.

Ask For a Raise, But Ask Differently Than Men

Researchers have offered some rather depressing advice about how women can negotiate without being seen as aggressive.

“Women can justify the request by saying their team leader, for example, thought they should ask for a raise,” writes Jennifer Ludden at NPR. “Or they can convince the boss their negotiating skills are good for the company.”

Regardless of their gender, negotiators should come to the table with a salary ask based on data. PayScale’s Salary Survey provides a free report with salary ranges based on your job title, education, skills, experience and location. Taking a data-driven approach could make a world of difference.

Stay Positive, But Also Be Willing to Walk Away

It’s always important to be willing to walk away from any negotiation if they can’t give you the salary you deserve.

That doesn’t mean cultivating an adversarial relationship with the person on the other side of the table, however. Remember that you and the person you’re negotiating with are partners. You’re working together to find a solution. At the end of the day, it should be important to both of you to make sure that you get paid appropriately for the job, and can do your best work.

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Have you ever negotiated salary? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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