I’m not sure if a man or a woman came up with the phrase, “Nice girls don’t ask,” but when you look at what ‘not asking’ has cost women when it comes to salaries, pay raises, and loans, it’s hard to believe that a woman put that out there.
Research has shown that women feel a great deal of apprehension when it comes to asking for money, with some experts saying that men initiate negotiations 4 times as often as women. In addition, a study on social conditioning and gender differences found that only 7% of females graduating professional school attempted to negotiate their first salary compared to 57% of men.
A costly move when you consider the following data from womendontask.com
- Failure to negotiate a first salary can cause an individual to lose more than $500,000 by the age of 60.
- Women pay as much as $1,353 to avoid negotiating the price of a car.
- Women earn about 40% of businesses in the U.S., but receive only 2.3% of the available equity capital needed for growth. Male-owned companies receive the other 97.7%
Analysts and researchers are quick to cite that much of women’s lack of negotiation prowess is due to social conditioning. Many have been socialized since birth to play a supporting role, put the needs of others ahead of their own, and avoid conflict. This results in a lack of confidence when it comes to things like asking for money.
[Related: Black Women Left Behind in Employment Rise]
This may be true, but that line of thinking can diminish the fact that the world does not like what it perceives to be aggressive behavior by women. The social incentives and gender study also found that women who negotiated faced a penalty 5.5 times greater than men, with many reporting a difference in how they were treated and how their work was viewed.
The fact is that women walk a virtual tightrope when it comes to needing to negotiate and needing to fit in. The next time you have to negotiate for a salary, loan and pay raise:
1. Raise your expectations: Don’t feel like you must accept the first offer you receive. According to WomenDontAsk.com, women expect to earn between 3% and 32% less than men for the same job. In addition, men expect to earn 13% more during their first year of full-time work and 32% more over their careers.
2. Know what you’re worth: Find out what other people in similar professions are making. Talk to friends in your profession. Websites like Payscale.com and Salary.com can be helpful.
3. Don’t be confrontational: Women who promote their ambitions are often labeled as ’bitches’ or ‘too pushy,’ and are treated accordingly in corporate structures and loan negotiations. These stereotypes are deeply ingrained into our culture. Be direct, but use style, charm, and finesse. Remember you are a goddess and a queen.
4. Practice makes perfect: Whether it’s practicing in front of a mirror or practicing with a friend, rehearse what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Visualize yourself in the interview or salary negotiation and rehearse what it’s like to be that person. Do this on a regular basis. You don’t want to wait until the night before your year-end performance review to practice what you’re going to say.
5. Keep your options open: Always explore what’s happening in your job market. Keep up with your contacts and networking. It is always better to negotiate when you feel like you have other options. It will give you a sense of power.
The world has a long way to go when it comes to putting men and women on a level financial playing field— particularly for African American women, who earn just 64 cents for every dollar paid to White men, according to the National Women’s Law Center. That makes it imperative that we empower ourselves by developing the negotiating skills we need in order to thrive. Figure out your goals, what they cost, what you’re worth, and don’t settle for anything less, even if it means moving to a new environment in order to be valued.