Eleven months into my first full-time big-tech job after college, I was considering switching to a new company. I had a friend who had already made the move, and he was encouraging me to jump as well.
The recruiter at the new company gave me the offer details, and I was less than thrilled. I asked my friend what his offer had been, and if he’d negotiated. We were essentially the same—we attended colleges right next to each other, took the same classes, majored in the same thing, had spent the same amount of time at this big tech company, were strong engineers —but his initial offer was significantly more than mine.
True, he had worked briefly with someone who was more senior in this new company and was endorsing him, but a part of me couldn’t help but question if the difference in the offer had to do with the difference in our gender.
In the United States, women earn 80 cents per every dollar earned by a man. Equal Pay Day is held on April 10th, because it marks just how far into the year on average women must work to earn what men earned in the previous calendar year.
Women Who Code conducted a survey on Equal Pay Day last year that revealed a quarter of women in tech have left a job because they were not being paid the same as men in equal positions.
This only works to exacerbate the problem of a lack of women in technical roles or in leadership positions, decreasing representation of an already majorly underrepresented group. 60% believed that their current employers were paying women less than men. And yet, 72.5% of women in this study believe that the gender pay gap could be solved in their lifetime.
This pay gap isn’t limited to tech, according to the National Women’s Law Center, women experience a wage gap across occupations and income levels.
The disparity also differs across racial identities – Black or African-American women earn 63 cents per dollar; Hispanic or Latina women earn 54 cents per dollar. Mothers earn 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.
Let’s start off 2019 thinking about actionable change to make this a reality. Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re getting what you deserve (in a good way):
1. Know Your Worth
Figure out typical compensation for your position or at this company. You can use online resources like Glassdoor and Payscale, or try asking people in the field.
2. Set An Example
Part of the reason this gap exists is that women simply don’t know what other people in their industry are earning. You can set an example by being open about your own compensation, without the expectation that those around you will share theirs back. Money is a taboo topic, but it’s important to breakdown these social boundaries if we’re going to achieve equality.
3. Track Your Accomplishments
When it comes time for performance reviews or asking for a raise, having a list of your personal accomplishments can make advocating for yourself easier. Start a folder, send a quick email to yourself, keep track of positive feedback from coworkers.
4. Know Your Rights
Employers love to ask for previous salaries but, did you know, in Singapore, if you’re not comfortable with disclosing your last drawn salary, you really don’t have to.
Avoid being lowballed the next time you apply for a job and refusing to disclose how much you’re getting. In this way, employers will have to pay you what you’re actually worth.
5. Start Now
All the previously listed steps can help prepare you to negotiate your wage. You can also use a resource like Empower Work, which provides the support of a free anonymous text conversation with a peer counselor. They can give you advice, and even practice what to say in a negotiation.
I’ll never forget how angry I was that I wasn’t being offered the same compensation as a male engineer. Armed with the knowledge of my friend’s offer, I demanded the same thing from my recruiter. Knowing that someone I considered my equal had already received this offer (and in fact negotiated for more) helped me feel confident in asserting my worth. But you don’t always need that to start the wage compensation conversation. Remember that you and your skills are valuable. No one should stand in the way of you making what you deserve. Together, we can take steps to fight for equality.
Text by Shannon Lubetich. Shannon Lubetich has worked at Snap, Google, and Apple as a Software Engineer, and is passionate about making the tech world (and the general world) a more inclusive space. She currently lives in Seattle and is obsessed with live music and puzzles.
This article was republished and edited with permission from Women Who Code.