'Let's discuss my pay': How to get your dues as a woman


Know your market value, keep abreast of developments in your sector and do regular research, are some of the advice experts have for women negotiating salaries. Photo: Covene/Unsplash

The wage gap is a contentious issue in many countries and a range of variables can explain discrepancies in salaries by gender. But female employees still have plenty of scope to push for pay rises - as long as they are properly prepared.

In many countries, men still earn significantly more than women. Claudia Irsfeld, HR manager and career coach, says this is because women are more likely to work part-time, are in poorly paid industries and are less often in management positions, she says about the official statistics.

Women also tend not to conform to certain societal role models and can as a consequence lose sympathy and draw a lower salary.

"Nurturing, modesty and friendliness are ascribed to women," says Irsfeld. "For men, it's assertiveness, strength, and ambition. In other words, when men make demands, it goes down well."

But when women act that way it can elicit negative feedback because such behaviour is less accepted. However, it is important for women to understand that they can break out of this stereotype.

Women generally have fewer salary discussions with their managers, Irsfeld notes. As a result, they miss opportunities for pay increases and for their achievements to be visible.

Moreover, women often do not know the monetary value of their work.

"As a result, they often enter into conversations unprepared," she adds. "Or they forget to name important things they have done or to talk about their tasks and successes."

When discussing salaries they often jump the gun by revealing the exact number they're aiming for, or might have no figure in mind at all. This only leaves it to someone else to float numbers or to downplay the issue altogether.

So how should women prepare for a successful salary negotiation?

"It's important to start by looking at how salaries and salary increases work in companies, says Irsfeld. "Who decides this and who do I need to speak to? There should be transparency."

Talk to your manager regularly, at least once a year, about what you have achieved, what skills you have developed and what successes you had. In this context, also talk about pay.

Take notes on an ongoing basis during your work, or keep a "success journal" that will give you the foundation and confidence for that crucial talk.

Also, know your market value, keep abreast of developments in your sector and do regular research. Contact associations and talk to acquaintances or colleagues so you can build up a network.

But in the current climate, with high inflation driving up prices, should all employees still be looking to renegotiate their salary?

According to the experts, you should first analyse the situation of the company and determine if is it among the winners of the crisis or is on the brink of bankruptcy.

"If you are in a company that has been shaken then it makes sense to take a closer look," says Irsfeld. "If the entire team is really called upon to persevere, then you can fall in step with it." But if you see that the company is still spending generously in various places, then don't hold back.

Another thing to check is whether there is a shortage of workers with your job title and skill set. Are you currently in a high-demand area where talent is highly competitive? Bring that into the salary discussion.

Make sure you have viable alternatives to a pay rise up your sleeve, be it more time off or further training, which will increase your value in the future. Maybe you can work from home more often and avoid high fuel prices. A lot can be shaped in discussion, so always pay attention to the context.- dpa

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women , gender gap , pay gap , salaries , stereotype


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