Women’s Guide to Self-Advocacy in the Workplace

Become Team
Become Team
November 18, 2020

The data on women's experience in the workplace reveals why it's so crucial for women to advocate for themselves.

But the workforce is slowly changing as women realize one other important point: It doesn't have to be this way. Women are negotiating their way to those raises. They aren't ignoring harassment or discrimination. They are making themselves heard in the workplace and elsewhere, and in doing so, becoming powerful advocates for themselves. This guide was designed to help in this endeavor.

Why It's Important for Women to Self-Advocate in the Workplace

According to "Women Don't Ask," the groundbreaking book by Laura Babcock, the wage gap between MBA holders was significant at 7.6 percent, with men making the higher salary. But when Babcock dug into the reasons why, she found that only 7 percent of women negotiated for their salary, versus 57 percent of men – and those who negotiated made about 7 percent more income.

Learning to negotiate is a vitally important skill for any woman who wants to advocate for herself in the workplace. But it's certainly not easy to jump into those waters. Here are some of the reasons women don't negotiate, and why it makes a world of difference in their financial bottom line and job satisfaction:

  1. Women aren't always sure what they want. Okay, you know you want more responsibility, challenging work, and a pay raise. Who doesn't want a pay raise? But some women find that it's tough to quantify what they really want, and so they shy away from asking for anything specific. In fact, women are 25 percent less likely than men to ask for a specific amount when negotiating a pay raise, according to the 2017 "Women in the Workplace" study by McKinsey & Company. It's important to remember that those who put a number on the table receive a greater increase in compensation, on average, than those who don't specify what they want.

  2. Women don't always prepare for the conversation. It's important to be highly persuasive during negotiations, but that persuasiveness tends to fall apart if a person can't explain what they want, why they deserve it, and present the evidence to back it up. In addition, a survey by Negotiating Women, Inc. revealed that many women tend to believe that their hard work will be recognized and rewarded by their companies without the need for negotiation of salary.

  3. Women typically don't want to be penalized. Women worry that they might face penalties at work if they ask for a raise. Sadly, in some instances, that might be the case. A 2011 study published in Organization Science found that managers heading into negotiation were likely to give men raises that were two-and-a-half times larger than what they would give a woman in the same position. But if they didn't have to negotiate, they would give the workers equal raises. This suggests that women who negotiate might be at a disadvantage -- which is just another reason why women must learn to negotiate well.

  4. Women may be less likely to believe negotiation will work. Women are well aware of the gender pay gap, as well as some of the reasons why it continues to be a problem, but it's so deeply ingrained in the workplace, it's hard for some women to imagine how they can make a difference. According to a <a href="https://www.jec.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/0779dc2f-4a4e-4386-b847-9ae919735acc/gender-pay-inequality


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