According to research, there is still a gender gap when it comes to compensation. In 2011, women earned 17.8% less than men across different industries. Over a 40 year career, that amounts to $431,000! So a woman with the same education, same qualifications, and same experience as a man will earn almost a half a million dollars LESS over the course of her career simply because she is a woman and not a man!

The biggest part of the problem is that we don’t negotiate well for our first job. That first salary is the stepping stone for future offers and if we don’t receive fair compensation then, we begin our careers behind men with equal qualifications. Men are more confident negotiating their salaries and it works to their benefit. Typical female behavior is to say “thank you” and accept the job as offered.

How much influence do we have over our compensation?

According to Catalyst, these things work well for women:

  • Making her achievements known to her manager, seeking feedback and credit as appropriate, asking for a promotion when deserved.
  • Gaining access to powerful executive sponsors who “go to bat” for her behind closed doors.
  • A corporate culture that encourages women to “self-promote” and fosters sponsorship in addition to mentorship.

I would add to this list:

  • Understand your unique value proposition and learn how to articulate this across the organization.
  • Negotiate for fair compensation and benefits with the knowledge that your value benefits the organization.
  • Identify the “politics” and how decisions are made in your organization.
  • Build a strategic network of people who can positively influence your career.
  • Leverage these relationships. Ask for high profile assignments. Ask for promotions and new opportunities.
  • Let others know your ambition.

Lastly, and perhaps most important, change your mind set about your potential.

You don’t need to know everything about a new position before you take it. You do need to build the case for how your past achievements demonstrate that you have the potential to be successful in a new position. Use this new mind set to lobby and negotiate for promotions and additional responsibilities. This is a great lesson we can learn from our male counterparts!