Somehow I missed #talkpay when it was happening on Friday (in case you did too, a bunch of people were tweeting out their salaries in support of equal pay), so sorry if we’ve already had this conversation. I am interviewing right now in a new field, and my prospective employer asked me last week about my salary requirements. I was both dreading and prepared for that question, and I have no fucking idea if I answered it correctly. Enter #talkpay.
How can we make sure men and women are paid equally for equal work? Well, one simple way to at least start is to make it clear what everyone makes. After all, we can’t know we are being paid less unless we know what everyone else is being paid.
The thing that really strikes me is how frightening this conversation is, and how many obstacles exist to obstruct it. For me, it boils down to the following:
- Talking about money is distasteful. The word that pops into my prudish New Englander brain is “vulgar.” I don’t know how to have this conversation in a socially acceptable way. It feels like a major faux pas. I could very awkwardly broach it with trusted friends (all of whom are in different fields), but I don’t know how I could possibly do it with a coworker, male or female.
- I already know that a male coworker in this field would make than me. I mean, don’t you? I just suspect that. And how would I look him in the eye when he confirms it? That would be humiliating. I imagine it would be just as awkward from his perspective—he would probably feel guilty for out-earning me, even though neither of us are at fault. I feel like that discovery would really cripple your working relationship.
- The risk outweighs the rewards. I am more worried about losing a job offer (or losing my boss’s goodwill) for trying to negotiate than I am excited about the prospect of a raise/promotion/bonus. This is possibly because:
- I have no idea how to negotiate, so of course I expect to fuck it up. And a large part of the reason I’d fuck it up is that I don’t what’s reasonable to ask for. Which is why #talkpay is so necessary in the first place.
So, questions: Do you know what you’re worth? Are you getting it? And if not, how do you ask for it?
Especially paging any recruiters out there (wwtdgeekgirl?)...
ETA: Accidentally deleted link to quoted article, oops.