Nearly two dozen women filled the central branch of the Greensboro Library on a recent evening to discuss how the gender pay gap affects them and what they can do to effectively negotiate their salary.
The “Work Smart” workshop was put on by the American Association of Women to educate women on how and why men are paid more than women and what they can do about it.
It’s one of several workshops put on across the country by various branches of the organization.
Nationally, women are paid 80 cents for every dollar that men are paid. In North Carolina, women are paid 82 cents for every dollar that men are paid, according to a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Negotiation Isn't A Battle, It's A Conversation”
Janice Imgrund, one of the association’s board members in Winston-Salem, led a large portion of the workshop in Greensboro. She said it’s important to be flexible when talking about salary.
“Don't jump to conclusions, don't try to interrupt them [hiring managers],” she said. “Be cool, calm and collected. Remember negotiation isn't a battle, it's a conversation.”
Imgrund also said there’s nothing wrong with women talking about their accomplishments as a way to show why they deserve more money.
“We don't brag,” she said. “We need to brag on ourselves more often. That's what the men do. Don't you hear them say, 'Oh I did this and I did that?' We need to start doing the same thing.”
What’s Your Salary?
AAUW officials suggest establishing a target salary and then stretching it upward to begin salary negotiations.
However, some women aren’t comfortable with talking about their salary up front.
Mikayla Wilson graduated from college two years ago. She works as a college advisor in Chapel Hill and said she didn’t know that she didn’t have to answer the “what’s your salary” question until she was more prepared.
“That really wasn’t something I thought about,” she said. “That is something I’m being asked about for all of my job applications, is up front, how much money do I want to make and I assumed I had to answer that question.”
Throughout the workshop Wilson and other participants took part in several salary negotiating role playing exercises and scenarios.
Nikki Guathreaux, another college advisor in Chapel Hill, said the workshop had something for women at all stages in their careers.
“Even if this was tailored for people who are well within their career,” she said. “I think it was helpful for people who are starting their careers because I just didn’t know much about what was standard about 90 day reviews and all of that.”
Money and Ethnicity
The American Association of University Women put out a report called "The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap." It breaks down women's earnings by race and ethnicity and compares them to the earnings of white male workers.
According to the report, black women make 63 cents, Hispanic and/or Latina women make 54 cents, and Asian women make 87 cents for every dollar compared to a man.
The National Women's Law Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates for women’s rights, determined that based on the current national pay gap, women will lose $418,800 over the course of a 40-year career compared to white men.
Lashuanda Lash is on the other side of the negotiating table. She works in human resources for a hospital in Madison, N.C., and realized she can be a bit harsh when talking with job prospects.
“I cut people off and honestly there have been times when someone has…I can tell they don’t know how to verbalize what they want and…‘Okay, this person doesn’t know how to negotiate’,” she said. “So that was interesting to see.”
The workshop made her think about the role salary negotiations can play in getting the best people.
“If we want the ideal candidate, we have to be willing to pay for that ideal candidate,” she said.
The American Association of University Women wants to train 10 million women on how to negotiate their salaries by 2022.
The group’s Greensboro board member Laura Tew said she just wants women to know their worth and receive it.
“We want you to have the resources to find your target salary,” she said. “Then we want you to be able to compile the data or the information that would allow you to defend at least in your own head why you have come up with that target salary.”