By Rachel Selvin
Unsurprisingly, women’s hesitance to fight for their worth has become a troubling hallmark of corporate culture. According to a recent survey by Glassdoor, 68% of women accept the first offer made by future employers, versus 52% of men. Compound these stats with the austere realities of entrenched wage inequality, in which women earned as little as 83% of what men did in 2015 (that gap becomes even larger when applied to women of color), and you’ve got quite an upward climb towards shaping the conversation surrounding money — a gendered reluctance to push for higher salaries. This is known as the confidence gap.
If all these hurdles have you feeling discouraged, Gerstley also shared some concrete steps for taking control of your financial future. Most importantly, she recommends working to untangle the stigmatizing feeling that your salary is somehow bound up in your self-esteem.
“It’s difficult to talk about earning because we don’t want to feel less worthy than other people, who potentially make more than we do, and vice versa,” she observes. “We’ve gotten into this destructive pattern of collapsing our self-worth with our net worth, but really your salary is just how your services are valued in the market right now.” And when you strip money of its power to dictate your worth as a person, it’s suddenly much easier to share your wealth of professional knowledge with other women.
“If someone asks you about your position,” Gerstley adds, “be open about sharing salary numbers and advocate for negotiating initial offers. It’s important and helpful to think of this as ‘doing it for the women who come after us,’ even if it’s a little awkward upfront. And remember: We negotiate every day (where we want to eat, what time to meet a friend, etc); practice getting comfortable asserting yourself.”
Finally, never sacrifice your own earning potential to preserve a relationship with an employer who isn’t willing to competitively reward your talents. One pivotal benefit of having robust savings is the freedom to leave a stagnant position and test your value in the marketplace. “If you feel confident in your financial wellness, and you know that you’re not getting paid what you deserve, it’s very powerful to have the confidence to walk away. You shouldn’t have to settle for less.”
Above all, women should never be paralyzed by this widespread, insidious fear of beginning the conversation. It might not be comfortable. It might not always work. But you know you deserve more.
It’s 2017, and yet women are still fighting for equality. Data suggests it will take until 2152 to close the gender wage gap, but it shouldn’t take a century to get what we want. We want more, and Refinery29 is here to help — because 135 years is too long to wait for what we deserve today
This piece was originally published by Refinery 29.