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The gender pay gap in the United States has women earning approximately $0.80 for every dollar men earn. And while we've made serious strides toward bridging this divide in the past few decades, experts say it will take another 50+ years until there is complete pay parity in the United States.


That may be promising news for our daughters and granddaughters. But, for us? It's time to take matters into our own capable hands, mamas.

“Knowing how your salary compares to others in your field is power, plain and simple," Lauren McGoodwin, CEO and founder of Career Contessa tells Motherly. “Many women don't even realize when they're underpaid because it's considered so taboo to talk about money."

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Here's how we can challenge the gender pay gap today:

1. Seek out transparent salary data

This is the first step for a simple reason: As McGoodwin says, we need to know what we're up against. That led her to launch The Salary Project, which allows women to compare their wages to those of others in their field, thanks to reports from thousands of women.

“It made me realize how willing women are to share their salaries with each other if it means effecting positive change," McGoodwin says. “And it's not just that people are passively curious, it's that they need this information to take action."

Other resources include Fairygodboss, Glassdoor and Comparably—among others.

McGoodwin also says that women shouldn't be shy when asking their own co-workers point-blank about their earnings. "Reach out to a few women and men at your company, or in similar roles at other companies, and ask them if they'd be willing to share their salary details," she says. "If someone says no thanks, that's totally fine. Ask someone else."

2. Boost your negotiating confidence

Armed with the knowledge of how much your peers may be making, ask for a meeting with your boss and go in with your research ready to back up your request. Still feeling intimidated? (As most of us would.) Lean on a script, like this one created for Career Contessa, that has you:

  • Give background info
  • Introduce why you're deserving
  • Make your researched-backed case
  • Make the ask
  • End with a bang

3. Confront your own imposter syndrome

If you have all the information and still don't *feel* like you deserve equal pay for whatever reason, remember this: YOU DO.

Okay, now, as for the internalizing that message part, you may have to fake it till you make it. Also, keep in mind that unequal pay isn't a judgment on your skill—but rather a symptom of this systemic issue that created the pay gap in the first place.

“Keep in mind that your self-worth is not your net worth. If a company isn't paying you what you deserve, and they're not interested in remedying that, it's not you," McGoodwin says. “You can find another job that will treat you with respect and pay you for your work and talent. Start looking."

4. Ask for help re-entering the workplace

Research shows that the more supported families are during their transitions to parenthood, the more progress we make toward eliminating the gender pay gap. This is especially true when mothers are offered resources during paid maternity leave—and during their transitions back into the workplace.

As Inkwell founder Manon DeFelice previously said for Motherly, the first step is asking for help. “Use [your] voice and influence at work to ask about opportunities for varied work hours and occasional work-at-home time," she says. “With the powerful technology we all now possess, from our smartphones to Skype, Slack and Dropbox, we're capable of giving our full effort and attention to work even if we aren't in the office."

5. Find your mentor

Even with all these resources and the best advice from the internet, the truth is that navigating work, motherhood and dynamics as complicated as pay parity can be difficult. Enter: a trusted mentor.

As career coach Evangelia Leclaire previously said for Motherly, “Get perspective. Find other working moms you admire, and request to connect to gain their insights. By doing so, you'll fulfill your need for connection and support, and you'll gain perspective and advice."

To make a match, there are several resources online—but perhaps the best is your own office and a simple introduction.

You deserve this. And, as always, you've got this. ?

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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