Mind the Gender-Gap: How to Ask for and Negotiate a Higher Salary & Benefits


Women know only too well that the gender pay gap still exists. April 10 was Equal Pay Day, a day symbolic of raising awareness to this fact.

In this article, we’ll discuss some strategies women can use for negotiating and asking for higher salaries and better benefits. We’ll also include some tips other successful women have used for negotiating with existing and prospective employers.

The persistence of the salary gender gap

A new report by Hired Inc., titled “The State of Wage Inequality in the Workplace” has revealed that when men and women are vying for the same position, men receive a higher salary sixty-three percent of the time. In these roles, women are receiving up to forty-five percent less than their male counterparts, according to the report.

Both men & women are uncomfortable discussing salary history

In a survey conducted by job search website Glassdoor, it found that sixty percent of women forty-eight percent of men feel that salary history questions should not be asked during job interviews.

Women are less likely to negotiate salary than men

When it comes to negotiating salary compensation, sixty-eight percent of women do not negotiate over salary compared to roughly 52 percent of men, the Glassdoorstudy revealed.

A study by the Harvard Business Reviewfound that starting salaries of recent male MBA graduates from Carnegie Mellon were almost 7.6 percent higher than those of females from the same program. However, there was one prominent factor for this. Only seven percent of the women attempted to negotiate for a higher salary, with the majority accepting the employer’s initial salary offer.

A similar study by Salary.com, found that only thirty percent of women engage in salary negotiations compared to forty-six percent of men.

These studies suggest that, unless women gather the reserve, relevant information and make the effort to negotiate – employers are unlikely to take the initiative to address the pay gap between genders on their own. In short, if you don’t ask – you don’t get.

Salary negotiation tips

1. Do your research.

Know the salary range in your field for the position you are applying for. That way, you’ll know what is reasonable to negotiate for, while avoiding being low-balled.

2. Be prepared to prove your value

If you are negotiating a race, be prepared to prove your value and why you deserve it. Prepare a paper trail. Be prepared to use figures, show lists and charts. Being able to point to specific facts goes a long way in making your case.

3. Salaries & benefits are almost always negotiable

A study by Salary.com found that eighty-four percent of employers expect prospective employees to negotiate during the interview stage. That said, employers will always avoid negotiations if they can.

Hiring managers or recruiters may try to give the impression that they’ve already negotiated the highest salary possible for you in advance.

However, no matter how bad you want the position, you need to put on your best poker face and dig in your heels.

Don’t expect or accept that their first offer is their best or only offer. Don’t forget that they are negotiating too, and there may be much more wiggle room than they are letting on.

One reason men often succeed in salary negotiations is they don’t automatically receive an initial “no” from a prospective employer as being the last word.

Negotiate for other benefits

Beyond negotiating for salary, employee benefits are another area that is often negotiable. These would include: Vacation time, sick time, bonuses or other benefits.

If you can’t achieve the salary you are looking for, you may be able to negotiate for benefits instead. Then again, you may be able to negotiate for both.

Employers may try to bluff that their compensation package is not negotiable, but experts say that is likely untrue. Employers may try to infer that all entry-level employees start with a fixed compensation package, but experts say wiggle room almost always exists.