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How to Narrow the Wage Gap

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Recently, I spoke to the chair of my department at WCSU about offering an independent study opportunity to students. I am teaching medical anthropology, my specialty, on a medical/dental trip to the Inner Himalayas with the Himalayan Health Exchange next June. Having offered travel study courses in the past, I was hoping to streamline the process of course credit by letting students sign up individually (as 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 life doing volunteer work and staying home to care for my three children, never learning, apparently, the worth of my work in wages. For example, at the university, besides teaching, I’ve taken students abroad as a club adviser, 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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