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."
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."
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. ?