The #metoo blitzkrieg may be a recent one but the gender wage gap is an issue that has been plaguing the female workforce for ages. In this article, we tell you why women shouldn’t shy away from negotiating their salary.
In the 19th century, our female ancestors fought hard for our voting rights. Today, thanks to their efforts, women constitute a substantial segment of the vote bank and play a significant role in influencing policies and decisions. In the social sphere, however, there is one area concerning women that needs attention. We’re talking about the issue of the gender wage gap.
With the turn of the century, more and more women started joining the workforce. The issue about women and men earning disparate salaries for the same set of responsibilities started to emerge. This used to be considered a case plaguing only the first-world countries but has also surfaced now in India.
Additional Reading: 5 Ways That Can Help Women Create Wealth
The Gender Wage Gap
Nearly more than a decade ago, Sara Laschever and Linda Babcock in their book “Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide” proclaimed that women lagged behind their male counterparts in salaries, bonuses, promotions, and perks simply because they “hadn’t asked for it”. They also added that women didn’t like to ask and weren’t going to start anytime soon.
If you’re a woman, these observations shouldn’t come as a shock to you. Let’s face it- not only do we feel uneasy about asking for a raise when we do work up the confidence to do it, but we also face the risk of receiving flak for stepping outside our “cultural limits”.
Additional Reading: How Women Can Save For Career Breaks
Gender wage gap in India
The gender wage gap in India varies from sector to sector but it ranges from around 15% to 26%. This means female employees earn 15-16% less than their male counterparts for the same role. Worse still, numbers indicate that the gap widens with age.
There are several reasons accounting for this in India. Our society’s attitude towards working women to start with. Most working women have a hard time juggling a career and chores at home. And for some of those who manage to do a good job of it, they get compelled to quit their jobs for child-rearing and managing household chores. In a lot of high-income families, women are forced to quit under the pretext that there is no need for an “extra income”.
No harm in asking
Before making up your mind about any job, research well with respect to what the average pay is among the male employees in your area of expertise. Understand clearly and clarify, if need be, the extent of your responsibilities. This will help you quote a figure when the “what is your expectation” question is thrown your way.
Quote your figure politely but confidently. Women are quite capable of doing things in a manner that doesn’t leave anyone feeling insulted or under-compensated. Try quoting a figure on the higher side of the salary you’re expecting because there will be a round of negotiations. So, even if the figure you quote is dialled down, it won’t be completely off the mark. Remember, the company isn’t really giving you free money- you are being compensated for the services that you have provided.
Additional Reading: Why Women Need To Buy Medical Cover
Know your real worth
As women, we tend to underestimate our worth for many reasons. And sometimes, we’re just plain used to being paid less than our male counterparts. Once we’re able to figure out our real worth in terms of market value- what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller, regardless of gender, we can begin to have a conversation leading to an agreement. A negotiation is a conversation between two or more people whose purpose is to agree to terms beneficial to all.
Long-term effects of low pay
Low pay has severe long-term repercussions for women. It is likely to hit women when they retire because when one’s wages are lower, the amount sent to one’s PF is lower, one’s ability to save is lower and therefore, one’s savings at the time of retirement is lower. Given that women live longer than men and their health goes through more vulnerabilities, during their silver years, women are likely to find themselves stretched for money or being completely dependent on their children.
Negotiating your salary does more than just net you more money in the short-term; it also leads to important financial advances that are hard to come by any other way. You won’t just feel the impact of the extra income during your first year of employment; it will continue to be a factor in the hikes going forward, as many raises and bonuses will be basis your existing salary.
When asking for a higher figure, offering the reason as another job offer in hand seldom works. Instead be strategic about it. Tie it to your scope of responsibilities to make it sound reasonable. Having said this, there is no fail-proof way to work around negotiation situations like these. The variables are too complex. Have your bases covered by researching your job and its market rates well.
With more disposable income in hand, women can use it to make several investments that will secure their short-term and long-term future. We’re talking about Fixed Deposits, Mutual Funds, and Savings Schemes.
If you’re already a pro at negotiation and are thinking about ways to achieve your financial goals, we’ve got a few financial products that will help you get started. Hop on over to BankBazaar to discover the best deals on loans, Credit Cards, and investments.