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April 21, 2004
Women Still Have Catching Up to Do
Women need to hone their pay-negotiation skills if they expect to keep pace with their male colleagues in an improving economy, according to the Associated Press.

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The pay differential already gives men a headstart. The AP cites government statistics showing that working women are paid, on average, about 80 cents for every dollar that men earn, after adjusting for differences in education, job tenure, occupation and industry. (Before adjusting for these factors, women earned an average of 56 cents for every dollar that men earn.)

Moreover, experts say the numbers indicate that cultural factors play a large part in women's relatively lower wages. Specifically, they:

  • don't negotiate as often as men;

  • give in more easily during salary negotiations, and;

  • tend to shy away from pointing out their accomplishments.

"There's a tendency for women to believe that diligence and hard work will be recognized, whereas men make sure that a light is shone on them," said Sheila Wellington, clinical professor of management at New York University's Stern School of Business.

Then there's the "good girl" syndrome--a term coined by Mikelann Valterra, author of "Why Women Earn Less: How To Make What You're Really Worth." Women tend to worry about being liked, Valterra explains, and many of them see wage talks in terms of rejection and loss. Men, on the other hand, see pay negotiations as a game.

Beyond that, the usual culprits come into play:

  • Women hurt their earning potential by staying out of the workforce for long periods or working part-time in order to raise children.

  • Certain employers simply place a higher value on the work that men do, resulting in their getting higher pay than women.

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