Money expert Manisha Thakor discusses the rise of the female breadwinner and co-breadwinner in America. In particular she highlights the growing interest in financial education by working women seeking financial freedom and financial security.Read More
by Manisha Thakor
Quick - what was the first thing that came to your mind when you read the title of this post?
What about "Gentleman, should you ask for it?" Would this change your response? For many people the female-oriented title raises sexual connotations while the male-oriented iteration conjures thoughts of money and power.
For the record, in both cases I am talking about asking for raises at work. This is a subject that has long made my stomach churn. As a natural people-pleaser-and-avoider-of-conflict, I've preferred to work hard and hope my results will speak loudly for themselves. Turns out I'm not alone in this.
Recently I talked with Carnegie Mellon Professor Linda Babcock, coauthor of "Women Don't Ask" and "Ask For It," two fantastic books on why and how working women should negotiate salaries. (Professor Babcock is also very involved with motivating young girls. Thanks to her, the Girl Scouts now have a badge for negotiation skills). Here are two of the many eye-popping statistics from Professor Babcock's work:
Avoiding negotiating your first salary can cost you $500,000 by age 60 (oh, and men negotiate their first salaries 4x more often than women).
Women who consistently negotiate their salaries throughout their careers typically earn $1 million more in lifetime career earnings than women who don't.
So what motivates negotiators? Locus of control. Professor Babcock observes that people who negotiate tend to have a worldview that is more "optimistic than fatalistic, malleable versus fixed." Psychologists have noted that men consistently - across countries - have a higher propensity to see "the world as their oyster" than women. Ergo, more men negotiate than women.
Alas, her research also shows that, "Men can behave anyway they want when they negotiate, but people have a strong preference for how women negotiate. Direct and aggressive doesn't work." For women a "more cooperative and relationship oriented" approach tends to be more effective. When women adopt a bold can-do attitude they are often met with a "visceral reaction to strong women" and perceived as being not nice. Clearly, for women to achieve lasting pay parity, this has to change... but that's a whole 'nother topic.
Let's get back to how this discussion can improve your life now
This gut-wrenching economic environment may not seem the obvious one in which to rock the boat. But it's also an environment when employers can't afford to lose their best people. An innovative new website called GetRaised.com can help you make the most of your current situation. With a few mouse clicks it will tell you if you are underpaid and for an additional $20 it will prepare a custom raise request that you can use to negotiate. If you don't get a raise in 6 months you'll get your $20 back. The company currently pegs the average raise received by users at $3,078. Not a bad return on $20.
What about you? Have you ever asked for a raise and if so, how did it go?
by Manisha Thakor
Do you have enough money?
Last week I wrote about the high cost to women of not speaking up for ourselves financially in the workplace. One statistic from that piece keeps floating through my head like the Goodyear blimp: Women who consistently negotiate their salaries throughout their careers earn $1 million more over their work lives than women who do not.
This struck me for two reasons. First, during my 15 years in corporate America I never once asked for a raise. Why? When I'm 100% honest with myself it's that I was afraid to "Just Do It" as the Nike commercial says. I didn't want to sound pushy, greedy, or heaven forbid: "Not. Nice." Second, 57 women were kind enough to take a short survey I put together about their feelings around money. By far the number one phrase that popped up was "not enough money." Some of it was frustration about not having enough money right now due to job loss, health issues, lack of understanding about personal finance and/or poor spending habits. Some of it was fear around not having enough money in retirement. But over and over that same phrase, "not enough money," kept coming up. So I asked myself to what degree our fear about not having enough money and ending up old and poor can be transformed by our own actions.
For inspiration, I decided to turn to Feminist.com founder Marianne Schnall's inspiring new book, Daring To Be Ourselves: influential women share insights on courage, happiness and finding your own voice. Schnall's book is a delightful compendium of quotes from women ranging from Maya Angelou to Madeleine Albright to Margaret Cho. While these insights extend to broader issues, I find that they can also be applied to money. For example, if you are feeling like you don't have "enough money" and that the root cause might be that you are not speaking up in the workplace and/or daring to be yourself financially, here are a few of my favorite abbreviated snippets from Daring To Be Ourselves to use as money mantras:
What about you - do you have any money mantras that help you speak up and own your financial power?