Closing The Wage Gap

A few years ago, my daughter applied for her first job after college. She worked hard on her resume and cover letter, was asked to come in for an interview and landed the job. Bubbling with excitement, she called to tell me the news. After congratulating her, hearing about the meeting and the responsibilities of the job, I asked how much money she'd be making. Sheepishly, she said, "I didn't ask."
I couldn't believe it.  With college loans and rent to pay, my daughter needed a paycheck. I asked her why she didn't ask and her answer astounded me. "I thought it was impolite to talk about money," she said.
What I hadn't taught her, and what her university failed to teach her, was that it's OK -- even necessary -- to talk about money. It's a problem that many women have.
In her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg tells a story about negotiating her contract at Facebook. She recounts how she was prepared to accept a compensation package that was less than she thought she deserved until her brother-in-law pointedly asked "why would you be willing to make less than any man would make to do the same job?"[1] She went back, re-negotiated with Mark Zuckerberg, and got the package she thought she deserved.
According to a new report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, women earn less than men in nearly all of the 114 most common occupations. Women are also more than twice as likely as men to work in occupations with poverty wages. In a study that looked at starting salaries for students graduating with a master's degree, 57% of male students negotiated for better pay. Only 7% of female students did.[2]
We may not all have the negotiating strength of a Sheryl Sandberg, but we do have one thing in common: the right to fair compensation for equal work.
The institute for Women's Policy Research says that if more women were involved in policy making the wage gap would receive more attention. They also make the point that the slow progress women have made in corporate leadership positions contributes to the wage gap.
It's time that we solve this problem. More women in executive offices and the boardroom is a good place to start.

[1] Sandberg, Sheryl. "Success and Likeability." Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Random House Digital, 2013. 46. Print.

[2] Sandberg, Sheryl. "Success and Likeability." Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Random House Digital, 2013. 45. Print.