Fighting the gender wage gap: AAUW instructs on salary negotiation

Fighting the gender wage gap: AAUW instructs on salary negotiation

Female NMU students discussed ways to fight the gender pay gap last week during the Smart Start Conference as part of the LeadHERship day in partnership with the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

AAUW-member Janel Crooks spoke to about 30 NMU women about negotiating a fair salary on Saturday, Feb. 25 in the Don H. Bottum University Center.

The interactive presentation was made possible by the NMU student organization Women for Women, who presented a discussion on privilege, intersectionality and microaggressions.

Attendees followed along with  the presentation by working through a workbook in which they filled out budgets, looked at wage gap data and did a role-play exercise to practice negotiating.

“It’s important for women to come together to fight for equality, and learning how to negotiate a fair salary is certainly one step toward equality,” Crooks said.

The four steps to a successful negotiation are: know your value, benchmark your salary and benefits, know your strategy and practice, she said.

According to the AAUW, women make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. The gap is not imaginary or fictional, Crooks said.

“We are talking data, it’s not alternative facts time.” Statistics show women are less likely to negotiate for a fair wage and because raises are often based on previous income; the salary gap between men and women grows over the years, Crooks said.

In a hypothetical situation mentioned during the conference, a woman made $50,000 less than her male counterpart over a period of 10 years. Crooks reminded women to remember that number when faced with the anxiety of negotiating wage.

Judith Puncochar, who is the liaison between NMU and the Marquette branch of the AAUW, participated in the workshop offering up her own experiences negotiating for a fair wage.

“I think you have more negotiating power than you think you have,” she said.

Senior criminal justice and international studies major and co-president of Women for Women Tiffani Haught said the current political climate was one motivation for creating the event.

“We wanted something that would engage our women student leaders in women’s issues and something that was also accessible to them,” Haught said.

Crooks discussed the stereotypes of assertive women and encouraged attendees to focus on personal accomplishments to raise their self-esteem. They also looked at example budgets and learned how to determine how much money they need to make in order to pay bills, as well as save money.

“Planning ahead can really help reduce the number of bumps and bruises during those first flights,” Crooks said.

She added, “You guys are capable, intelligent young women. You got this.”