What Individuals Can Do to Close the Wage Gap

  • Learn everything you can about wage negotiation. Many books have been written on the subject, and a large body of research shows that women are far less likely to negotiate for salaries and promotions than men are. There is a multitude of information related to wage negotiation available from the national WAGE Project, which has a host of other resources.

  • Successful wage negotiation depends upon benchmarking your salary and making your value clear to your employer. Benchmarking is using available data about what people in your field with your qualifications earn on average in your geographic area. Salary.com has partnered with the Wage Project to offer wage benchmarking information specifically for this purpose. You can find a basic amount of information free of charge, and more detailed information is available for reasonable fees.

  • Look at the data on the field/profession you are in or are considering entering. Unfortunately, where there is a high concentration of women in a profession, pay tends to decline. Make an informed decision based on what's right for you.

  • Consider a wide variety of professions - not just those that feel comfortable or familiar. Traditional "women's values," like nurturing and fairness, can be contributed in a number of ways to fields where women have not traditionally worked, such as engineering, securities trading, or technology.

  • Make a career path for yourself. Many women make the mistake of thinking they have "arrived" when they get their first job - that they will be "noticed" and promoted because they deserve it. Unlike many men, they may think they need to know their job backwards and forwards before they begin planning their next step. Similarly, many women make the mistake of trying to ascend career ladders that stop rather abruptly. Think about long term potentials for growth in earnings and responsibility. For instance, many women are human resources managers, which often has a much lower earnings ceiling than does a manager in charge of a profit/loss division.