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Women Rarely Negotiate for Higher Salaries

It’s hard enough being your own advocate—even more so advocating for yourself in a space that has historically discouraged it. It’s no secret that women’s paychecks have generally been slimmer than their male counterparts’. But it’s not just discrepancies in income that are holding women back from long-term financial success. Many women have been conditioned not to openly discuss finances, making it difficult for them to advocate on behalf of their salaries in the workforce, and leaving potential earnings behind.

60% of women in the workforce say they’ve never negotiated with an employer for pay. And a 2021 report on poverty by the Congressional Research Service found that, among older women and men across surveyed age groups, women in their 80’s and older had the highest poverty rate. And even though a study by Fidelity on investments found that, on average, women gained higher returns from their investments and tended to be better at savings than men, women surveyed still cited a lack of financial confidence holding them back.

Yes, being your own advocate can be taxing—but asking for more money is necessary when the future of your financial wellbeing is on the line. And the best place to start when preparing yourself to ask for more money is by getting curious and examining why you’re hesitant to negotiate in the first place.

Why Don’t You Ask for More Money?

It seems like a simple question: why don’t you just ask for more money? But women have been essentially programmed not to, so there are many internal reasons why you may be holding yourself back from financial negotiation. Start asking yourself some questions to get to the root of what’s holding you back and prepare yourself to advocate for your financial wellbeing. Some things you can start asking include:

  • What have I been conditioned to believe about money and investing? And, follow up: what do I believe is true?
  • Why haven’t I asked for more money? And, follow up: why do I think that way?
  • What scares me about asking for more money?
  • What about this triggers me? And, follow up: does it actually have to do with me, or something else?

It’s important to remember there are no right or wrong answers here, only curiosity and clarity. These questions may not lead you to straight answers, but they will help you uncover something, and that’s what it’s all about in the beginning. Once you start to take a deeper look at your own thoughts, biases, and behaviors, you can determine their source to start deprogramming yourself out of the beliefs that hold you back.

Mentally Prepare Yourself

Once you’ve done the work of examining your thoughts around negotiation deeper, you can start to do the mental work of preparing yourself to ask for more money. Take some time to formulate your ask: are you asking for your raise based on years of experience? Maybe you’re asking for a raise as a result of a promotion or additional responsibilities. Perhaps you’re asking because you’re underpaid in your field.

Whatever the reason, coming to the conversation with clear positioning and resolve will help with your confidence in your request, because you’ll know it’s founded in reason regardless of your prior conditioning. Then you can consider how you’ll respond if you’re turned down, what negotiation tactics you might take, how you’ll continue taking up space and pushing for your worth. Prepare yourself for the worst while expecting and hoping for the best.

You can practice with a friend or loved one to work on your resolve and continue questioning yourself when new feelings or worries arise. The work of deprogramming or unconditioning yourself doesn’t end with the questions you ask yourself before the salary negotiation or raise request—that self-reflection process must keep going if women are going to flip the script on their financial future.

negotiate for higher salaries

Take Up Space, Get the Raise

Fear is the biggest hurdle women often have to jump through to negotiate pay or ask for a raise. We often fear offending someone, being unfair, going against the grain, stepping outside of our lane, etc. To overcome this fear, we have to remind ourselves that it’s ok, and even encouraged, to take up space!

What’s the worst that could really happen if you ask for a raise or negotiate your salary in a diplomatic and respectful way? They might say no, but you can be prepared to push back or work toward finding another solution to get where you want to be. So why not take up the space, ask for more, and see what happens.

It’s high time women are paid what we’re worth—let’s make it happen.

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