Why Women Are Failing at Salary Negotiations

Women are still paid far less than men on average. Women make approximately 0.77 cents to every dollar a man makes, according to Time Magazine.

There are a lot of contributing factors to this problem, but one that a lot of people don’t focus on is how most women are losing out during the salary negotiation.

I ran across an extraordinarily interesting thread on Reddit today. The thread is by a person who performs the salary negotiations for a large multinational technology company.

“I regularly hire women for 65% to 75% of what males make,” the anonymous Redditor says. “I am sick of it.”

More from the thread:

“Our process, despite the pay gap, is identical for men and women. We start with phone interviews, and move into a personal and technical interview. Once a candidate passes both of those, we start salary negotiations. This is where the women seem to come in last.

The reason they don’t keep up, from where I sit, is simple. Often, a woman will enter the salary negotiation phase and I’ll tell them a number will be sent to them in a couple days. Usually we start around $45k for an entry level position. 50% to 60% of the women I interview simply take this offer. It’s insane, I already know I can get authorization for more if you simply refuse. Inversely, almost 90% of the men I interview immediately ask for more upon getting the offer.”

This problem continues to the counteroffer. Men will simply put out a higher number, while many women in this person’s experience don’t even put out a number, so the negotiator continues to lowball it.

You may say that this type of salary negotiation is unfair, but this is how markets work — two sides haggling over perceived value. The fundamental issue here is how women perceive and carry themselves during these negotiations and how often they ask for a raise.

This is an issue that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, a woman I deeply admire, has continually noticed. “Women systematically underestimate their own abilities,” Sandberg told an audience during her famous TED Women talk. 57% of men negotiate a higher salary for their first job out of college, while only 7% of women do the same.

Fighting this issue is not just about laws and regulations, but awareness and mindset. Tell that young college senior niece or daughter of yours that she is worth more and that she should be confident in demanding more. If a company doesn’t accept her terms, it’s their loss and not hers.

I’ve embedded Sheryl’s TED talk for good measure. Let me know what you think of the male-female salary gap issue in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, GS+