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, 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.



  5. The Female Factor

got cojones?

I was recently on a plane having a lovely discussion with the woman sitting next to me. She was in her 60’s and was asking me about what I do which then flourished into a really great conversation on gender, workplace, the past and how far we have come etc.

After about an hour or so she got up to use the restroom. When she was gone, the man sitting on the other side of me tapped me on the shoulder “I couldn't help but over hear your conversation, do you mind if I ask you something?”

I of course agreed and this was his question...

"What do you say to boys so they don’t feel emasculated?"

I did a double take unsure if I had heard his question correctly and asked for some clarification. In short he proceeded to explain that he works for the federal government and that in his experience the government and other companies are giving jobs to women instead of men and that the woman are never “thought leaders” and often not deserving of the job but only get it because they are women and that is the big push right now.  So do I speak to boys so that they don’t get discouraged by this? 

It is not often that I am left , and speechless. In this moment, however, I was. He was not rude but there was something in his tone that told me I needed to tread softly. (also not really a strong point of mine) An airplane is not the best place to have a conversation like this...while there are emergency exits, they are not exactly an option.

But here is the thing, some of what he said isn't necessarily wrong. Across the nation there are programs working specifically to help women get jobs and research shows that women are getting employed in record numbers. But does that mean they are "stealing" jobs from men? Are they not qualified?

I would argue that they are very qualified. In fact women are working to get qualified, consider this: 

women’s median income in the US grew 29% compared to 2% for men

Women are making all of this headway because they have chosen to go out and get educated. While there are programs for women today (thank goodness), they aren't just given to women. Women are working for them. Need proof?

As I thought about how I would respond to this gentleman, I realized that providing all of these stats and other similar ones was probably not going to make him feel any better. Instead I focused on the fact that what I speak about is not focused on emasculating anyone or saying that any one gender is better than another. I also tried to express that at the end of the day, it shouldn't be about one gender being better than another, one race better than another, one sexual preference being better than another. It's about providing opportunities for EVERYONE that is willing to go after it. 

Our conversation was nice. He accepted my explanation and gave me a few things to think about as well. At the end of the day isn't that what it's all about?

I am not sure that this post was necessarily about anything in particular. I just felt like the experience should be shared. So, there you have it


Why She Buys - Bridget Brennan

a lil' swag goes a long way ... just ask Kanye

Yesterday I started a 5 day series that I am calling "5 in 5"  each day this week I will cover a different hurdle and tips for clearing them as we start climbing those ladders so that we can shatter those glass ceilings. It's a lot of work, so let's get started. First, a reminder of the topics the topics...

  • Sorry not sorry (Posted Monday August 3, 2015)
    • I"m here for a reason, get over it
  • A lil' swag goes a long way
    • Just ask Kanye
  • Eww, verbal diarrhea is so not cool
    • Seriously, dude, it's not a good look
  • I got shot gun, I called it
    • (and other ridiculous game you should learn to play)
  • Let em' hear you roar
    • (it's okay, we promise)

Today, we talk SWAG. Not the free stuff brands give out to convince you to like their product. I am talking about real swagger here. 

graceful confidence

First, a definition. Swagger is a hip-hop term that you are probably farmiliar with but I am putting a bit of a spin on my definition. You will notice I defined it as "graceful confidence". I did this because when we are talking workplace, hustle and purpose, there has to be a certain grace to your actions. You have to balance between being cocky, self assured, confident and a total jerk. If I had a visual for this it would be Sammy Davis Jr. and Gregory Hines. If you do not know who they are, shame on you.  They were both dancers, singers and actors who moved with a quiet, distinguished and definitely graceful confidence. There was something about it that was just.....well...

cool with out even knowing it. Don't believe me? Watch for yourself.

Ok, so what do tap dancers have to do with swag and what does swag have to do with the workplace?

It's simple, every single thing in the workplace comes down to one thing... confidence. With out it, you aren't going very far. But if you are a woman the rules are a bit different. 

There are studies out there that show identical resume's being looked over by people. The only difference was the name on the top of the resume, for example John vs. Jennifer. The men were always evaluated much more favorably than the women regardless of the gender of the person doing the evaluation. Studies range by occupation and industry but the result are startlingy similar.  All of the things that people use to describe men as competent and exception at work are the same traits that are used to say the women are not.

Negative words are more often used to describe a woman's performance. In many cases, the woman can't win. If she acts "like one of the guys" she is deemed unpleasant, aggressive, bossy etc. If she acts "like one of the girls" she is emotional, unstable, fickle. Talk about playing a game with a loaded deck.

I ran into the situation more than once during my career. I can pull out review after review that use the following adjectives to describe me:

  • too passionate
  • outspoken
  • aggressive
  • need to develop your leadership skills more
  • emotional
  • too invested in the job
  • bitchy or condescending, bossy, 
  • rub some people the wrong way
  • doing too much, other people are feeling "dwarfed" (yes that is a real quote)
  • "maybe take it down just one notch"

Sadly, this list could go on. It is this same list however that would have co-workers come to me for advice and bosses asking me to take lead, be an example and to grab the bull by the horns and get things done. All of my reviews in my career have been marked with an "exceeds expectations" and full raises/bonuses, you name it but the negative language you see above was also in all of them.

How do we then deal with this catch 22? I can only speak from my own personal experience and so I will share with you what I have experienced.

When all of this negative language is presented to you, find out what they would suggest you do to change it for the better. Ask you bosses questions. Questions and insight are powerful weapons. Use them to navigate the "aggression" which I call "confidence" to your advantage.

Don't just ask any questions though. Ask them tough question that require your superiors to have just as much responsibility for your success as you have. Ask what you can do. Ask for examples of when what you did or said could be perceived negative. You will start to see some patterns.

I noticed that the things they were complaining about were also the things they liked in other employees. So I did the comparison game. Now I do no normally recommend this but in this instance it made sense.

Seek out people in your organization that you admire, people who are hard working, have great reputations for getting things done and being effective leaders. Ask all of these people to coffee or lunch or even drinks. Now ask them questions as well.

When I did this I asked both the women and men the same questions.

What do you struggle with in the workplace if anything regarding your gender?

Is it hard to work in an office full of people of the opposite gender?

Got any tips for how to navigate the corporate structure with regards to these things?

When the women responded I started to see similarities. When I asked the men the same question I got a lot of blank and/or confused stairs and a question in return "I'm not sure I understand what you mean."

This was an interesting experiment and one I highly recommend. Next pull your bosses aside and ask some simple questions. Ask them to compare you to a male counterpart. GASP! right? Ask the following:

  • Am I more or less passionate than him?
  • Am I more of less aggressive than him?
  • Is my work better or worse than his?

When asked these questions, every single manager I asked answered "no" or in some instances "more and better". Well, that's not confusing at all. It's like the boys who says he likes you one day, then pulls on your pigtails the next day.

picture borrowed from

The cherry on top for me was the question below:

have you ever heard anyone in leadership use these same words to describe him?

do they call him a bitch?

Do they say he is bossy?

do they tell him to take it down a notch?

Blank stares, sit back in chairs, shadow of understanding comes across faces followed by a frantic brain scan to figure out what to say were typically the responses I received.

This is a long way to say that having the confidence to ask the questions and speak up when something isn't right is swag. It is graceful confidence because it is trying to determine where and if improvements truly need to be made. It puts the focus on the work and not the gender. 

I can not necessarily say after this happened, I no longer felt a gender bias at work. If that were the case, it would have been once boss I spoke to instead of multiple. However, I did notice in all cases, a different level of respect from those particular managers. In one case, my next review raved about all of the changes I had made to become a really "solid leader" of the team and that I had really taken the criticism to heart and made the necessary changes to go further in my career.

I swear to you, I changed nothing except the fact that I asked those questions. 

Sometimes we have to get people to see us in another light and sometimes you have to work your way around the path to get to the final destination. Do whatever works for you but don't shy away, get quiet and sit down in the corner. We gain nothing from shrinking into the background. Sometimes, you gotta get a little Kanye West up in the place (in the most respectful way possible of course.) So turn up your collar, put on those high heels (as my friend Suzanne just emailed me) and get your swagger on.

To the cool kids, hipsters and people in the hip-hop game, thanks for letting me borrow your slang for this. I realize I may not be the intended demographic for such language but it works and it resonated with me, so again ... no apologies, just thanks.

Have you ever got all Yeezy on a situation at work? Tell me about in the comments below or on social media using the hashtags

  • #kanyemademedoitdawne
  • #dawnehanksdotcom

Tomorrow we continue the series and just to prepare you, things may sound a little gross because we are talking about verbal diarrhea. I know, as Jimmy Fallon would say ...  EWW.  

when it happens to you

you came back for part 2. YEAH! 

thank you

here's where we left off... (if you missed Wednesday's part one, go read it so you can catch up.)

when it happens to you...

yes i made these trophies and yes it is supposed to represent hustle and doing good at your job, mainly because who has a random picture of them in a cubicle or desk working away that looks interesting? Not me, so I decided to just use an image of winning. It works, right?

yes i made these trophies and yes it is supposed to represent hustle and doing good at your job, mainly because who has a random picture of them in a cubicle or desk working away that looks interesting? Not me, so I decided to just use an image of winning. It works, right?

I was struggling at work. It wasn't WITH the work necessarily. That was always the easy part. I was struggling with the structure around me and the way in which business was done. This is not to say my way was right, it is simply saying that I wasn't used to what was happening and it confounded me. 

You see, in my experience, work had always been somewhat easy. I got the job, I went in, worked hard, got bored, asked for more, did more and then typically moved on to something new. Here I was in a job that I loved but the environment was all wrong. For the first time in my career it felt as if people were judging me. It felt like people didn't like me. I understand that in the professional world "being liked" should not be what keeps you up at night and normally it wouldn't. I am pretty confident in who I am and I know that I am not for everyone but at work, I had never had to deal with that. 

On a weekly, sometimes daily basis, I was told one or more of the following things:

  • you are too aggressive
  • maybe if you toned it down a bit, people would be more receptive
  • they think you are a bitch
  • why don't you ask (fill in the blank with any guy's name) to help
  • he got promoted because he had more experience (despite having less education and work experience than me)
  • we just really need you to be less emotional
  • you shouldn't care so much
  • You are really good at what you do but we just need you to change this one little thing
  • your personality just doesn't mesh well here
  • some people think you are too harsh, I don't but "some" people do


I would come home every night and feel like I had gone a few rounds in a boxing ring. Wasn't I hired because I was aggressive? Wasn't I hired because I am good and show results? Should I be worried that people don't "like" me? Why in the heck should I not "care" about what I am doing? Wait, why wasn't I promoted?


I think this happens a lot to women, maybe not this exact thing but the idea that at some point at work, you are told to act different than who you are and you are done in so in a way that wouldn't have been said if you were a guy. Heck, some of the guys I worked with literally would go into my bosses office and FART, yes FART and they would laugh with the boss about it. First of all WHAT? or to stay with the theme...


I am not kidding. When we find ourselves in these situations (not the farting, the stuff before that) MOST women, start to question their qualifications and value. They feel the need to justify themselves and the make accommodations that men wouldn't. But why wouldn't we?

For example, how many times have you been in a meeting, maybe you are the only woman, and you are the one is asked to take notes or call for lunch? In my entire 20 plus year career I have NEVER seen a guy take meeting notes OR order lunch. NEVER! We are not "just one of the guys" and apparently that is less somehow.

These things might seem small to some but they really add up to a lot and they are why teaching our daughters to be leaders is so important. We will not become leaders if we do not acknowledge what we bring to the table. We have to find a way to move past the ridiculousness of experiences like the one I explained.

I know what you're thinking, was it really that easy for me to just "get past it"?

heck no.

I was upset. I was confused and don't tell anyone, but I basically cried on my drive home every single night. This was not what I signed up for. I really had a crisis of confidence and I am NOT a person who has a confidence issue at work. But I felt like I was just hanging there and since I knew this was not me I had to develop a game plan. Something had to change and unfortunately I have yet to secure a super power that allows me to bend people at my will. This means...

i couldn't just hang there anymore...i had to be the change.

to be continued...

next we'll talk about ways to change our attitude, outlook & responses in the workplace so that we can continue our upward climbs on those ladders we're always hearing about. Till Then...