When it Comes to Equal Pay…

Listen up, ladies, because I’m only going to say this once. If you don’t ASK for what you want, don’t blame others when you don’t get it. And don’t be so quick to pat yourself on the back if you get it without asking, because that’s just called luck.

For me, this idea can apply to a lot of different things, but the topic at the forefront of my mind is equal pay. I get it – on the whole, women are making 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Of course, the issue is much deeper than a single statistic, and certainly much deeper than a single platitude about asking for what you want. But for my money, it’s a damn good place to start.

Shortly after Jennifer Lawrence’s essay concerning wage inequity was published, I listened to a radio program where two women were discussing the topic. They mentioned a recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy where Meredith was offered a chief position (by her female boss) but thought the salary was too low. One of the radio show hosts commented that female bosses should be looking out for female employees.

What a lovely idea; but it’s this kind of dependence on fairness and correctness being inherent in the hierarchy that has us sitting sweetly, waiting for our worth and value to be recognized. It’s like an aspiring model hoofing it around the mall hoping to be discovered – possible, but not likely.

We have legislation to protect us from these inequities – the Equal Pay Act, Title VII, to name a few. There’s no amount of legislation, however, that’s going to fundamentally change behavior. Behavior changes when attitudes change. Those are often long, slow rides; but work within your sphere of influence if nothing else. Educate yourself about the type of pay that’s typical for those in your industry, with your educational background, experience, and geography. For the most part this information is readily available on the internet, but start a conversation with your friends and colleagues in same or similar positions too. We need to demystify salaries and remove the taboos of talking about them. I’m not advocating for radical advertisement, by the way – no need to add your salary to your Facebook profile or get t-shirts printed, but we need to take it out of that growing bucket of things we’re too shy to talk about.

Know this – not all women are for you and not all men are against you. The most important thing is that you’re for you – and that starts by educating yourself about your own value and then voicing those expectations when the need arises.