Friday, January 11, 2013

The Gender Wage Gap and Me

Just today, I went to my workplace, a state university where I teach, and spoke to the chair of my department about offering an independent study opportunity to students. I am teaching medical anthropology, my specialty, on an exciting medical/dental trip to the Inner Himalayas with the Himalayan Health Exchange next June. State universities, like all state agencies, are bureaucratic. Having offered travel study courses in the past, I was hoping to streamline the process by letting students sign up individually (an independent study) vs. via a new course offering, a process with enrollment restrictions requiring a review by the department, the Dean and the Provost. In providing the details of the trip to the chair,  I actually said, "I don't even care if I get paid, I just think this is a great opportunity for students." The chair wisely responded, "No, you will get paid for sure! And if nine students sign-up it will be the same as offering a course!"

Upon returning home I saw the following article on Twitter  from The Atlantic Monthly, "Don't Ask, Don't Get: How to Fix the Gender Gap in Salary Negotiations."  While I have been employed the equivalent of full time for the last ten years, before that I spent much of my adult life doing volunteer work, staying home to care for my three children, and working part-time, never learning, apparently, the worth of my work in wages. At the university, besides teaching, I've taken students abroad as a club adviser and never received compensation for planning and executing these 10-day to two-week trips - despite paying others to cover classes in my absence. I guess now is a good a time as any to start learning how to 'ask' and 'get!' Click here to read the full article.

Excerpt from Don't Ask, Don't Get: How to Fix the Gender Gap in Salary Negotiations:

Many women don't know how to ask for the money. So many, in fact, that Carnegie Mellon runs a Negotiation Academy for Women co-founded by Linda C. Babcock, a professor of economics. Babcock has also co-authored two books on the subject, Women Don't Ask and Ask For It. In her first book, she offers some troubling statistics:
  • Men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women.
  • When asked to choose a metaphor to describe the negotiation process, women picked "going to the dentist." For comparison, Men chose "winning a ballgame."
  • Women enter negotiations with pessimistic expectations about what wage increases are available, and thus if they do negotiate, they don't ask for much: 30 percent less than men.
  • 20 percent of adult women say they never negotiate at all, even when it may be appropriate.

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