Get Your Green: How to Earn Your Worth

Get Your Green: How to Earn Your Worth

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One timeline shows that it all started in 1837 when Susan B. Anthony asked for equal pay for women teachers, another in 1848 with the first women’s rights meeting. Sometime between then 1920s, burning bras and shoulder pads, women have made their mark in the working world.031207_big_CAREER2.jpg

No pun intended, but are all these efforts really paying off in the workplace? The 19th Amendment provided women with equal rights, but are we holding ourselves back when it comes to earned income? Statistically, according to a recent Boston Globe report, women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar, but this isn’t always management’s fault. The real power to be the leader of the pack is in your own hands, you just have to know how to use it.

Once in a blue moon, we women occasionally do something wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to bringing home the bacon, women make quite a few mistakes in comparison to their male counterparts. Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, a specialist in women’s issues, says that when it comes to not earning their worth, mistakes made by women are:

  1. Waiting for a miracle to happen instead of making it happen themselves
  2. Failure to match their skills and experience with the job best for them (or staying in a dead-end job)
  3. Refusal to find a good support system, such as mentors, coaches, or workplace team

Our mistake might also be genetic. The missing link between women and the big paycheck is a “Y” – chromosome that is. Author and management consultant Don Schmincke says testosterone drives aggression. This allows men to naturally push for what they want, where as women have to force themselves. Schmincke states research has shown “that women are held back not because of policy, but due to lack of aggression.”

It’s not always anatomic reasons why guys make more. Schmincke uses negotiating a starting salary as an example. Research shows that when discussing pay, men were more apt to push for something higher, while women tended to accept the first offer. Schmincke continues, “When women exhibited the same aggressive behavior as men, they got what men got.”

Alas, not having that Y-chromosome does have its benefits. Women are able to perceive things better than men, which can really come in handy in negotiations or sales. Schmincke says women tend to notice things such as auditory signals and color changes in skin, as well as a high olfactory sense, particularly with pheromone detection.

The first step to earning your worth is to break through the barriers. This should be fairly easy to accomplish because they are essentially self-imposed. O’Reilly shares some common barriers that keep women from earning what they should be or more:

  • “Having little or no self-value” If you want to make the big bucks, you need to know that you are worth the big bucks. Repeat after the ever-so-wise Stuart Smalley: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it people like me!”
  • “Lack of networking/working alone” Co-workers and superiors cannot see how great of a worker you are if you don’t let them. If you like to work by yourself, try something as simple as being involved in project meetings.
  • “Fear she will not be liked or ideas have no merit” This goes back to knowing you are worth your keep. This doesn’t mean walking around like a proud rooster, but take confidence in what you do. Speak up and share your ideas before some other genius does. Your idea might be groundbreaking.
  • “Worrying about ‘thinking out of the box’ and more worry if the box is secure and predictable” Many of us are resistant to change. However, new and innovative ideas are what put us ahead of the competition. Just think, if Benjamin Franklin was afraid of the unknown, he wouldn’t have flown a kite in a thunderstorm. Try this exercise to see how simple an open mind can be:

Draw a line connecting all of the dots using only four straight lines:


Resist the urge to do your best, Chef Emeril impersonation, but kick it up a notch. Get out there and start doing something. Once as you get through your own barriers, let yourself be seen and start earning that green! Here are five ways to increase your skills so you can ask for that raise (or negotiate your salary) with confidence:

USE YOUR STRENGTHS: See Schmincke’s comments in “What We Do Wrong.” O’Reilly also says that women are good communicators and have a niche for details and planning.

BE RECOGNIZED: Network and join in on collaborations.

LEAD WELL: Be competent and show others that you capable of managing yourself and whatever may come your way.

FOSTER POSITIVE WORKING RELATIONSHIPS: Be a team player and avoid office gossip and politics.

PRODUCE RESULTS: Express ideas, use innovative thinking, and execute plans. Here is how to think outside of the box:


Now get out there and make the women who came before us proud. Live out their dreams and efforts, but please, leave the bra torching in the 70s. Those things are expensive!