Equal Pay Day: 5 Ways for Women to Earn What They’re Worth

Now that it is finally April 17, I can officially wish our women readers, “Happy New Year!” Why so late, you might ask? April 17 marks how far into 2012 a woman has to work to match what the average man made in 2011 (we call this unfortunate occasion “Equal Pay Day”). Women make an average of 77 cents for every dollar that men earn – and the statistics for minorities and mothers are even more appalling. In fact, according to a 2004 study, women’s lifetime earnings are only 38% of men’s earnings!

Paycheck fairness is a moral cause, enabling American families to gain the economic security they have earned through lifetimes of hard work. As we read in the Torah, “You shall not defraud your neighbor, nor rob him; the wages of he who is hired shall not remain with you all night until the morning” (Leviticus 19:13).

Remedying this atrocious disparity can and must be legislated, but as women it unfortunately falls to us to make sure we are not victimized in our workplaces.

  1. Negotiate. Too often, women feel nervous about negotiating their salaries when offered a job, so they simply accept the offer they are given. Your offer will not be rescinded if you ask for more money. Additionally, past salaries determine future salaries, so failing to negotiate early in your career can affect your “worth” for much longer than that first job lasts.
  2. Know the field. How much are people in similar positions paid, both within your organization and in comparable organizations? When negotiating your salary, this information can be very effective evidence for your case. SimplyHired.com, Glassdoor.com, and Salary.com are all great resources.
  3. Don’t give your boss the opportunity to say “no.” Suze Orman, finance guru, says that asking your boss for a $5,000 raise gives your boss too much power. Instead, she says, ask for either a $5,000 or $10,000 raise. This gives your boss options, but none of those options involves saying “no.”
  4. Don’t wait around. Many women assume that if they work really hard, their bosses will take notice and give them a raise. Karen J. Pine, a psychology professor at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain and co-author of “Sheconomics” (Headline Publishing Group, 2009), says research has shown: “People don’t come and notice.” Instead, make sure you are keeping a record of your accomplishments, regularly sharing this record with your supervisor, and taking the prerogative to ask for a raise when your responsibilities have increased.
  5. Get creative. In this economy, it might not be feasible for your company to offer you a higher salary, but they can show their appreciation for your work in other ways. If they can’t offer you more money, try asking for more vacation days, better benefits packages, or the opportunity to work at home one day a week. It’s up to you to identify ways that your employer can value your work without affecting the company’s bottom line.

And don’t forget about the big picture: These steps and others can help you as an individual make sure you are receiving equal pay for equal work, but that doesn’t change the fact that the system needs fixing. Take Action: Urge Congress to help end pay discrimination and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act today!

Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel

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Katharine Nasielski

About Katharine Nasielski

Katharine Burd Nasielski is the Communications Associate at the RAC and was an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant from 2011-2012. She graduated in 2011 from Northwestern University and is originally from Philadelphia, PA where she is a member of Society Hill Synagogue.


  1. Because it’s on tv doesn’t mean its true « Author Ellen Frances Dyke - December 17, 2012

    […] courtesy of: http://blogs.rj.org/rac/2012/04/16/equalpay/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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