The rise of the Alpha female! Our nation’s women are bringing home more of the bacon! Recent Census data confirms what many of us at kitchen tables across the country know about working women and their growing, and in some cases full, contribution to their family’s budget. More than 40% of American households with children rely on mom as their greatest source of income, according to a new Pew Research Center study that crunched the data. This is a dramatic shift from 1960 when women were the primary breadwinners in just 11% of homes with kids.
At first glance this appears to be an improvement, but we need to look at the data in context. On average, women make 77 cents for every dollar men make. A large portion are single mothers and her median income in 2011, for those who have never been married, was $17,400. The gender wage gap worsens for women of color. Overall, Latinas are paid 60 cents for every dollar paid to men and just 55 cents for every dollar paid to White, non-Hispanic men.
Women make up half of the workforce and are better educated than our male counterparts–earning over the course of 30 years 9 million more college degrees than men. Still this income disparity continues. Why? One answer is structural and President Obama is throwing his political weight behind legislation that would make gender salary differences more transparent.
But another factor is as powerful: we still don’t know our worth.
Women hold themselves back “by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning forward,” writes Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg, in her book Lean In. According to a recent LinkedIn survey, fewer than 26% of women feel comfortable negotiating compared to nearly 40% of men.
We are great advocates for others, but we hesitate when we have to do it for ourselves. We are considered nurturers and society perceives many of our gender characteristics such as empathy and compassion as a lack of leadership and authority. Yet as someone who has walked in the career trenches in heels, I can personally vouch that these qualities can benefit the workplace, adding to improved employee morale and a boost to productivity.
Women must set boundaries and know our worth.
We must negotiate for our salaries as if we have earned everything we are asking for.
Because we have! You just need to know what to ask for and how. Here are some tips learned after years of work experience:
Lauren’s Salary Negotiation Tips
- Do a personal inventory of your skills and qualities, dividing your strengths from weaknesses. How can you turn the latter into a positive?
- Do the research on the company, job, market, and region. Salary.com is an excellent tool
- Never be the first one to give a salary figure. You may be negotiating against yourself
- If the potential employer continues to ask, provide a range
- Don’t offer up a figure from your last job, unless you are explicitly asked
- Never, ever, say yes to an offer immediately
- Once you get the offer and have studied it, don’t be afraid to negotiate which in plain English means ask for more–salary, vacation days, etc.
- Know when to give a counteroffer
The key to carving out our place in the workforce is really understanding how much worth we bring to the table. This is especially crucial for all my Latina sisters: if you are in the room, you earned your place and deserve to be there! The Alpha Female is on the rise: we just have to nurture her growth and advancement.
A morning news producer on the “vampire shift,” The Wise Latina Club’s Lauren Rivera is a writer, television producer, and media extraordinaire. She loves to dance, travel, laugh a whole lot, explore her new home city of Washington, DC, and write the weekly feature Premiering with Lauren–reviewing films for The Wise Latina Club. Click here to read more about and connect with Lauren.
Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.Tell us about your salary negotiation: what worked, what didn’t?