118 years, why are we running the world for so little?

  • Beyonce says "Girls, We Run the World".

  • Bridget Brennan says that women account for 80% of all purchase in the United States (5)

  • Woman is the vessel through which all life is born

  • More than 3/4 of of all teachers are women and this number increases even more in elementary and middle school levels (1)

  • 80% of all nurses are women (down 7% in 40 years.) (3)

  • 66% of all caregivers are women (4)

  • Without women, we as a society and culture do not exist and YET...

None of that is valued in our society, even today in 2015.

don't believe me?

Then why is it that last week a global report came out that stated it is still another 118 years until the gender pay gap closes globally? (6)

wait? what? 

Traditionally female roles like a teacher, earn less on average which is part of the problem.

The median salary for a teacher in the United States is around $40,000 and has remained relatively the same since the 1970's. (inflation-adjusted terms) (1)

YUP, that is 40 years with relatively no rise in salary!!

In comparison, women who work outside of teaching have seen salary growth around 25%. (1) However, this reinforces the idea that jobs traditionally held by women are not valued on the same level. I think it is even fair to say that we don't value "caregiving" in our culture, at least not in a way that allows people to be compensated for it. 

Or do we?  

On average male nurses make about $10,000 more annually than women. (3) When you look at the research you often hear one of the reasons being that women negotiate less than men. I believe the statistic. I talk to women all of the time but I struggle with it. First let me say that YES we should be negotiating. I'm not happy about it but let's face it, big corporations are concerned with their bottom line before their people. Harsh? Maybe but if it weren't true then negotiation wouldn't be necessary because they would pay people based on value and make the first offer the right offer. Alas, that is not the culture we live in so they make a lower offer in the hopes that we won't negotiate.

According to a survey on the site Monster.com, out of 500 women questioned only 16% say that they always negotiate compensation. (7) As I travel and speak around the country, the most frequent questions I get are around resume's and negotiation. Women know they should be doing it but they feel uncomfortable and don't necessarily now how to do it. (Interestingly enough, there is quite a bit of research out there that says the Millenial generation struggles with this across gender.)

If the idea that "negotiation" is a key reason in preventing the closing of the Gender Pay Gap, man are we in trouble. For one, globally, there are countries where a woman asking for a higher salary could prevent her from getting paid at all, provoke violence and worse. YES, we still live in a world where women using their voice doesn't always elicit a positive response. Even if we focus just on the US, the idea that the initial offer to a woman is in some cases automatically less than what is offered a man tells you immediately how a company values you as a woman. Why would I want to help a company grow that doesn't value what I bring to the table?

Some may read this and think it is a harsh view on what is going on but I am telling you I hear it every single day. Statistics are one think and they help provide some support to the story but if I had never read a single article or saw a single news story on this subject, I would still know that the "gender pay gap" exists. Like I said, I hear about it everywhere I go. 

I guess it comes down to this, are we okay with it taking 118 years to earn the same amount of money as our male counterparts? I for one am not. Globally, this issues becomes even more difficult that it is in the US. If you saw the average salaries at the beginning of this post, you get a small inkling of why that is. It is also sometimes difficult to look at a problem so large, so let's try and break it into smaller pieces. How do we make a change in our own country, state, community and even the specific places that we work?

The tips I am about to list are my opinions. They are based on conversations I have had with women across the country, situations I have seen and my real life experiences. Take from them what works for you and leave the rest, that's really all we can do.

Leave emotion out of it. YES,

I said it. The girl who cries at the drop of a dime, even in her bosses office just said to leave emotion out of it. That does not mean, don't cry or make your case. It means that your boss does not care about any of the following

  • You have bills to pay

  • You THINK you should make more

  • You "heard" that  other people in the office make more

  • Your car just broke down

  • You really want to buy a house or some other big ticket item

  • You don't think what you make is fair

  • You d/did exactly what they asked for

The only items you should be bringing to the table when discussing salary are measurables

  • what have you done ABOVE & BEYOND the job description? Be specific and make it tangible to business growth & development

  • What do/have you bring to the table that is helping grow the business

  • reputation - how do other's view you? clients, co-workers etc.

  • Proof of EXCEEDING the goal you set forth

Know your business, know the market, know your value and know your worth

  • You need to do some research before they offer you the job. What is the average salary for jobs like the one you are being offered. 

  • don't just look up titles, understand the responsibilities tied to the role

  • how do those responsibilities line up to your previous experience

  • make it specific to your city and industry if possible (ie. tech industry is going to pay more than the sports industry in most cases)

Money isn't the only item to be negotiated, what is important to you. 

  • additional benefits

  • a customized work schedule

  • continuing education

A few additional things to consider:

  • Ask for feedback and use the feedback to rally your cause

  • Be brave enough to walk away from something that doesn't serve you. BUT... Be smart enough to know if it is ego or reality

  • Work smart. Work hard. Both have value. NEVER work for free. Value your time, skills and abilities enough to know that working for free or charity should only be offered to those in need. Corporations don't need your philanthropy but there are a lot of people and organizations who do. Know when to make the distinction between the two.

  • Lastly, ask questions. We don't know, what we don't know so continually be learning. The more we do know, the more we can do to initiate change.

Have you ever negotiated your salary or a raise at work? What worked for you? Tell me in the comments below. Let's build a community of women sharing their win's with each other.



  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/sunday-review/why-dont-more-men-go-into-teaching.html?_r=0
  2. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/03/25/male-nurse-gender-pay-gap-women-nursing/70419356/
  3. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/03/25/male-nurse-gender-pay-gap-women-nursing/70419356/
  4. https://www.caregiver.org/women-and-caregiving-facts-and-figures
  5. The Female Factor
  6. http://www.nbcnews.com/business/economy/gender-pay-gap-will-be-erased-it-will-take-118-n466631
  7. http://career-advice.monster.com/salary-benefits/negotiation-tips/Salary-Negotiation-Gender-Wage-Gap/article.aspx