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How to Negotiate Salary for Women: Leveraging Strengths to Get Ahead

How to Negotiate Salary for women: The Gender Trap in Salary Negotiations

The gender pay gap is not just a statistic; it's a reflection of the myriad challenges women face in the professional arena. Women's salary negotiations are fraught with systemic biases and self-imposed limitations. Drawing inspiration from the European Business Review's article "Women Leaders: The Gender Trap" by Toegel and Barsoux, this guide provides some actionable strategies that can empower women in their quest on how to negotiate salary and get ahead.

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How to Negotiate Salary for women: The Complexity of the Gender Trap

Toegel and Barsoux shed light on the dichotomy of roles that women play in leadership positions. This tightrope walk, although prominently observed in leadership, echoes throughout the career trajectories of many women.

  1. Navigating Dual Expectations: Women leaders often find themselves oscillating between being strategic and nurturing, switching their demeanor based on the audience. The inherent challenge is the risk of being perceived as "too soft" or "too assertive".

  2. Impact on Salary Negotiations: This duality can be especially pronounced during salary negotiations. A woman might hesitate to be assertive fearing she might come across as overly aggressive, or conversely, may overcompensate, risking potential collaboration.

Systemic Biases: Recognizing and Countering

The gender bias is deeply embedded within organizational frameworks. Recognizing them is the first step to formulating a counter-strategy.

  1. The Historical Context: The gender pay gap has historic roots. Historically male-dominated industries and roles often come with in-built biases that may not be overt but influence decisions subconsciously.

  2. Anticipating Biases: Women must anticipate these biases when preparing their negotiation strategies. For instance, they might face questions about family commitments affecting their job, which their male counterparts might not face.

The Pitfalls of Self-Sabotage

  1. Undermining Achievements: A common self-sabotaging thought might be, "I got a significant raise last year; I shouldn't push my luck." By undervaluing their contributions, women inadvertently negotiate against themselves.

  2. Comparative Self-Talk: Comparing oneself to peers, especially when underselling one's capabilities, can diminish self-worth.

  3. Assuming Intuitive Understanding: Waiting for recognition or assuming superiors will automatically notice and reward hard work can lead to missed opportunities.

Crafting a Blueprint for Effective Negotiation

A well-defined, introspective strategy can serve as a lighthouse during the tumultuous process of salary negotiation.

Self-Reflection: Who Are You?

In the safety of a comforting environment, reflect on your strengths, achievements, and unique attributes.

Acknowledge both your accomplishments and aspirations, for they collectively define your professional identity.

Articulating Desires: What Do You Want?

Clearly list down your goals. Beyond the immediate salary number, consider other elements like flexible work hours, remote work possibilities, or professional growth opportunities.

Rank these aspirations. This hierarchy will serve as your negotiation blueprint.

The Visual Reminder

Create a tangible representation of your reflections and aspirations. This can be a document, a vision board, or any medium that resonates with you. Position it somewhere easily visible, serving as a reminder and a motivation booster.

Remind yourself - You are not an underearner

In Barbara Stanny's insightful book, "Secrets of Six-Figure Women," she shares the contrasting financial behaviors and mindsets of women. One of the standout observations she makes is the existence of "underearners"—women who consistently undersell their financial worth and potential. Stanny identifies several telltale traits that typify these underearners. Notably, they exhibit a surprising acceptance and tolerance for earning less than what their skills and experience warrant. This often manifests as a readiness to work without adequate compensation or even for free. Remember, this is not good for you

Advocating on someone else's behalf

Channeling the energy of advocating for a loved one can infuse salary negotiations with passion and conviction.

  1. The Power of Visualization: Emotionally invest in the negotiation by visualizing the process as advocating for someone you love. Research supports this.

  2. Role-Playing for Confidence: Simulate negotiation scenarios where you're advocating for another. This practice can sharpen your negotiation skills, making real-life negotiations more intuitive.

  3. Broadening the Perspective: Remember, each negotiation isn't just about an individual raise or position. It's about reshaping perceptions, setting precedents, and paving the way for others. So if it helps, think about the future leaders for whom you are paving the path.

HOW TO your Negotiate your salary - The Path Forward

Salary negotiations for women, while challenging, present an opportunity to reshape narratives. Armed with self-awareness, a strategic blueprint, and the transformative power of advocacy, women can confidently navigate the gender trap. As we champion for a more equitable future, it's pivotal to remember that every negotiation, every assertion of worth, and every stride forward collectively bridges the gender gap.

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