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Let's Close the Pay Gap

Morning Rush Hour

Having managed large teams of both men and women one noticeable difference I witnessed is how aggressive and focused men are in asking for what they want. This really stood out to me because I myself had never been forward and aggressive in asking for more pay or advocating for myself.

Why is this? I think it is that most women are programmed early in life to . . . not ask. We’ve been told to “wait to be asked”. I saw this play out just last week when a young woman in my neighborhood and I were discussing her distress over the fact that a boy she had dated all year asked another person to the prom. When I asked her why she didn’t just ask someone else her reply was, “Oh no, I can’t do that. Girls don’t do that.”

This cultural norm follows women into the corporate world. I was recently mentoring a young woman who was reticent to ask for an upgrade in title and salary commensurate with the additional tasks and responsibility she had been assigned and was performing. She didn't understand why her boss didn't just know that she was doing the work. I reminded her that his job was to see the larger picture and it was her responsibility to connect the dots for him on how things were getting done so seamlessly.

The data says only 7% of women versus 57% of men negotiated for more money last year when accepting jobs fresh out of college. This is significant because those who did ask, on average, received 8% more pay. We will never close the pay gap if we don’t encourage girls to advocate for themselves and create a culture where it is ok to have the conversation. Data also suggests that women are frowned upon when they do advocate for themselves. I have been spending lots of time talking with women about this matter as I have traveled the country on book tour. Why is there still such a double standard for women when we ask for fair and equal pay?