8 Proven Things Women Can Do To Close The Pay Gap

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Apr. 1 2015, Published 3:30 a.m. ET

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The gender pay gap is real. No one can deny its existence. One UN study says the pay gap won’t close for 70 years at its current rate. Does everyone else agree that’s ridiculous? Let’s speed it up by doing these eight things:

1. Be Verbal at Work

Women are often faulted for staying silent rather than making demands or stating opinions. We’re considered the quiet, passive gender while our male counterparts are more likely to voice their desires. In order to close the pay gap – entirely or even just somewhat – we should acknowledge this stereotype, and smash it. We need to be just as assertive and confident as our male co-workers, but then know when to dial those traits down.

According to a study conducted by Stanford GSB, the ability to successfully turn masculine characteristics on and off results in more promotions for women. Acting as a chameleon, apparently, has its advantages. So while women definitely shouldn’t stay silent, we should find our own voice. We should utilize our emotions and passion to our advantage while remaining levelheaded, composed and confident. It’s a tricky, delicate balance, but we can do it.

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2. Counter the Initial Job Offer

Speaking up and being confident should begin from the get-go. Don’t shy away from countering your initial job offer and demanding more money. Some companies may even expect you to counter, leaving you looking like the weak sucker when you fail to do so.

You need to be your own cheerleader, expecting the best and going in with high expectations. The company would be lucky to have you – that should be your mindset. You need to speak for your worth, and make yourself clear. Insisting upon higher pay at the start will demonstrate confidence, a bold demeanor and that you really view yourself as a worthy employee.

3. Negotiate Pay

Continue to negotiate your pay as you progress. You shouldn’t be knocking on your boss’s door every day, but reasonable negotiations are a good way to close the pay gap and put more money in your pocket. When should you consider negotiating? Research what others in your field are making; don’t try to negotiate without first doing that research. Then act. If you’re completing assignments above your pay grade, say something. Working a ton of extra hours? Say something. Leading every project within the office? Bring it to your boss’s attention.

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Your pay won’t just magically change; you need to be the force behind the increase. Unfortunately, in today’s society, women need to demand higher pay, or they may never get it. Don’t let fear stop you. If you have done adequate research, and truly deserve higher pay, you have nothing to be afraid of.

PS – Need help with this? Want a clear cut guide? Well, there’s an app for that! Take The Lead Women created the Close The Gap app, you can check it out HERE.

4. Learn a New Language

Another way women can tackle uneven pay is to one-up their male counterparts. How can they do that? Invest in Rosetta Stone. Hire a language tutor. Enroll in evening classes. Do something to learn a new language – there are numerous ways to go about it. Knowing another language will make you a greater asset to your company and will likely result in a pay jump. In fact, bilingual adults earn on average $7,000 a year more than those that only speak one language.

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5. Pursue a Lucrative Career

There are certain areas of employment that will bring in more dough. Pursuing some of these areas starts in college – like studying majors that have created numerous billionaires. Many of these job markets – like engineering, economics and finance, for example – remain male-dominated industries. Women cannot be intimidated, and should not be afraid to tap into the money being made in these concentrations.

6. Balance Work and Life

Some experts argue that it’s not gender that impacts a pay gap, but rather life choices that make the difference.

According to Warren Farrell, author of “Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap – and What Women Can Do About It,” gender isn’t to blame. Work and life decisions are wedging the gap.

“Research shows that work/life decisions lead to men earning more and women working less and leading happier and healthier lives,” Farrell says. “When you look at men and women who have never been married and have no kids, women make 117 percent of what men make, even when you control for education, hours worked and years in the workplace,” he says.

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7. Find a Mentor

Just as you’d want an expert to accompany you on a dangerous climb up Mt. Everest, you want an expert with you in the workplace. One of the best ways for women to excel in their careers, and to earn more money, is to find a valuable mentor – someone within the field or company that has achieved a level of seniority. This should be someone who can offer advice and help improve work performance. Someone who knows the ropes and understands the industry – that’s an asset every woman should have.

If you’re not already getting mentored by someone through your workplace, keep this in mind: women can really benefit from having a male mentor, says Pamela McCauley, professor of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Men can offer new perspectives and skills that can help to diversify female employees, making them more valuable.

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8. Be aware of your environment and proceed accordingly

The results are in: women can access 2014’s best and worst places for gender equality within the United States. Some states offer better chances for equal pay, while others lag far behind – dragging the country to the 23rd spot for gender equality in the world. Pretty shameful. The five states with the smallest pay gap are, in order from best to worst: Arizona, California, Maryland, Florida and Nebraska. The five worst states are: Mississippi, Alaska, West Virginia, Louisiana and Wyoming.

This is likely due to the variable costs of living across the nation, but if given the option to relocate you may want to consider one of these locations for a salary increase. And if you’ve already thrown down roots in one state, you may just want to use salaries from similar positions in the best states as bargaining power for a raise.

Practice these things and there’s no way the pay gap will hang over us for another 70 years.

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