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April 11, 2024

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    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
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Spring Housing Guide

Session focuses on women’s wages

With the existence of the wage gap, the University’s Women’s Center is looking to help women succeeed.

On Nov. 18, Jean Marie Greene and Keji Kujjo taught one of the Women’s Center’s professional development sessions, Salary Negotiation for Students, using the work of the nonprofit organization, American Association of University Women.

About 20 female students, along with a couple of University professors and employees, came to the 90-minute session.

The pay gap is currently “79 cents for every dollar a man makes,” Greene said.

Women of color are affected even more, as are male minorities, though the workshop didn’t center on men.

That 79 cents for every dollar doesn’t seem like much at first, but imagine, as the years go by, how much money that eventually adds up to.

“That can turn into thousands of dollars (women lose) as years go on,” Greene said. “Over the course of a 40 year career, women lose half a million dollars.”

There are various reasons and theories that try to explain why American women still get paid less than men.

Some reasons are that women get paid less if they decide to get disadvantageous degrees, like art, or that women simply do not ask to try and get the salary they want.

AAUW still found that despite all the possible variables that could go into women getting paid less, there is an unexplained seven percent pay gap one year out of college.

“Choice does not explain everything. There’s discrimination and bias in the workplace,” Greene said.

The pay gap has lessened since the 1970s, but one of AAUW’s purposes is to teach women to be more confident and assertive in negotiating their salaries in order to decrease the pay gap.

AAUW has created four steps for women looking to take matters into their own hands by negotiating their salaries.

Step one is to write all skills, experiences and related job positions or leadership roles gained by the applicant. Compare them to the job requirements of the position .

If the skills and experiences align with or surpass the job requirements, then it is justified to ask for the average salary for the job, or in asking for a raise, according to AAUW.

This first step was met with the most difficulty from the women in the room. Even if it is fair to get paid the average salary for a position if all the job requirements are met, there was still apprehension from many of the women about it.

“There’s still the fear I won’t get the job (if I negotiate),” one of the women said.

Another woman pointed out the potential problems of a capitalist society.

“If I say anything, there are two other candidates. (They’ll just say) to have a nice day,” she said.

Greene remained firm, however, in answering those objections.

“If your qualifications meet or exceed expectations of the job requirements, it’s okay to ask,” she said. “Do not settle yourselves short.”

Ultimately, it’s up to a woman’s discretion. Certain jobs, like government positions, however, do not leave much room for salary negotiations, Greene said.

There are also some companies where women can reasonably conclude that they will not get paid more, or get paid for what they’re worth. It is a judgement call.

Otherwise, Greene and Kujjo advised women to always negotiate their salaries before accepting a position and when they wanted raises.

“Because that is what men do,” Greene said. “They always try to push the envelope. You should too.”

Smartly negotiating salaries leads into AAUW’s second step in the process. In order for anyone to successfully push for the salary he or she wants, research is necessary.

AAUW recommends Salary.com to women, but it can be a useful tool for everyone.

The website calculates the median annual salary for any position, and it takes into account the location of the job as well.

“Look up information on (job) benefits in the area as well,” Kujjo said. “Those can be negotiated the same as salaries can.”

Women also must create a realistic budget and settle on the lowest salary they are willing to accept in order to make ends meet.

Step three is to have a strategy for salary negotiation. Have prepared and persuasive responses for possible questions employers may ask.

Don’t start negotiating your salary until you have a job offer, Kujjo said. That gives you more leverage.

“Get everything in writing,” she said. That includes the salary that was negotiated, along with all the benefits they are offering.

The fourth step is to keep practicing it, and do it every time you’re looking for a job or a raise.

“The whole purpose of this is to not sell yourself short,” Greene said. “If a man is worth that much, then so are you.”

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