A few days ago, I read the book ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook Inc. The book intends to empower women to achieve their full potential. It brought forward many thought-provoking statistics. Some of which were:
Women are seldom picked for CEO positions because the odds are stacked against them. Most of the new CEOs are hired or promoted from other supervisory roles– jobs that women rarely hold at senior levels. As a result, in 2016, 90% of the new CEOs hired were men. Women of color have the worst of it, with only 3% of them holding executive positions in companies.
Although women who negotiate for raises and promotions do succeed, they’re often penalized more than men. As per reports, such women are 30% more likely to being labeled as “intimidating,” ” aggressive” or “bossy.
Women are prone to not receiving good feedback from their employers, even upon asking for the same. The study shows that women are 20% less likely than men to agree that management feedback helps them in improving their performance.
After ‘Lean In’, I read another book, ‘The Secrets of Six-Figure Women’. It highlighted the same issues, but from a different perspective. For this book, the author interviewed working women across the country.
The author in the book revealed that most women don’t earn as much as men because they never demand more. They never feel they are worthy enough which then becomes the greatest hurdle. Some women shared that they expected their managers to see their hard work and reward them accordingly, however, that never happened until they went and asked for higher pay.
Another issue that the book stressed was: Women applied for a job when they felt they were 90% qualified while men applied for the same job when they found themselves just 50% qualified.
Though statistics in both the books stand true, it’s how we look at things that determine how women would want to see themselves in the coming years. It’s up to them to resign to the fact that they are underpaid or it’s up to them to take responsibility and understand the measures they can take to reduce the gender pay gap.
Let me share two examples from my personal experience:
Recently, I attended a Women’s Conference named ‘Reducing the Gender Pay Gap’ organized by the company ‘Sprout Social’ in Chicago. There, a women entrepreneur shared her own experience on the same topic. She had co-founded a company with a male friend. One day, they had a meeting with two male investors for fundraising. During the meeting, she felt the investors were condescendingly dismissing her ideas. However, when her male co-founder pitched his viewpoints, they were seen in a new light. After the meeting was over, her co-founder came to her and said “I noticed what was happening there. We will take his money only if you are comfortable with them”. She smiled and said, “I don’t care about their attitude. Now, I will surely want to take their money”.
A lesson well learned, “People will hate you, rate you, break you, but how you stand is what makes you” – Anonymous
In the year 2017, I was working for a small manufacturing company in Chicago. Within a few months, I was recognized and praised by the management for my exceptional performance. I was the only woman in my team. My male counterparts were paid 40% higher than me for doing the same kind of work. Everything was going well until I decided to ask for a raise. I stood my grounds and explained to the manager why I deserved a salary increase. My boss convinced by my proposal offered me a 50% hike. However, just after 20 days, my colleagues complained about me saying I am too competitive, aggressive and threatened to move to another company. One fine day, my boss called me and asked me to leave the company.
Yes, the statistics or the examples I put across shows that things are not in the favor of women. The book Lean In, asks men to support women both at work and at home. Per the book, a more equal society creates opportunities for men too.
However, the need of the hour is for women to stand up for themselves more so because the gender pay gap is only widening, as per reports.
For the next time, negotiate harder and keep the below points in mind:
Prepare a record of all your previous experiences and educational qualifications
Stay calm, appear confident and highlight all your contribution to the current company
Research what your teammates and other people are paid for the same job
Prepare a file/notes/emails of reviews you received from client, colleagues
Above all, keep it in mind that being a women you are paid less and you are worth more than what you are asking for!