Women, Wages and the Workplace

Father and daughter Lee and Jessica Miller, co-authors of A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating, discuss how women can be more aggressive in the workplace and bargain for higher pay.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

On Wednesdays at this time, we focus on the workplace, and this morning we'll hear about women's salaries. Women still earn less than their male counterparts, and one reason may be that women are not as aggressive as men when negotiating compensation. At least that's what Lee and Jessica Miller believe. They're a father-and-daughter team, and they co-authored the book, "A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating." They spoke with Renee.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Lee Miller, Jessica Miller, welcome.

Ms. JESSICA MILLER (Co-author, "A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating"): Thank you.

Mr. LEE MILLER (Co-author, "A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating"): Welcome.

Ms. MILLER: We're happy to be here.

MONTAGNE: Why do women have so much trouble negotiating salaries that are on a par with men?

Ms. MILLER: Well, I don't know that it's that women have a problem negotiating salaries on par with men. I think women in general don't enjoy the concept of negotiating. They tend to go after what is fair and easy instead of as much as they can get.

Mr. MILLER: Yeah. I think it also has a lot to do with how women tend to place a greater value on relationships, whereas men tend to look more at the outcome, and as a result, women tend not to negotiate very often.

MONTAGNE: Well, you know, one thing, though, Gloria Steinem once said, that women don't have pay equity with men because they don't even know they make less than men, or at least the men they can see right beside them, they might know that in a general way. Should women, since we--when it just comes to pay, do their homework before they even walk in the door to find out exactly what the men are making?

Mr. MILLER: Yeah. Preparation is key, and using the information that you have. I mean, I recently had a client who actually knew that she was making less than, you know, the other men in her company at similar levels, and the way she knew that was apparently she had been involved in a United Way drive and had seen every salary. But she felt that it was inappropriate to use that information, and I basically said, `You have to start from the fact that you are being paid less than everybody else in that inequity, and a man I don't think would have any problem using that information.'

MONTAGNE: How do you get the information on what your counterparts or your potential counterparts make?

Mr. MILLER: There's an incredible amount of information on the Internet, but also just talking to people. Everybody knows everybody's salary in a company.

MONTAGNE: One other thing that would seem to me to be a drawback for women in negotiating--not in life but in negotiating a job--is that they might--I've had this happen to me--you attach to the job. You sort of so want the job.

Mr. MILLER: You really need to be able to say no. You really need to be able to walk away to be effective when you negotiate.

Ms. MILLER: The best way to do that is to have other options, to be talking to a lot of people and just have other options and find the right job.

Mr. MILLER: Yeah. And even if you really want one job, the fact that you are talking to other employers will give you confidence when you negotiate.

MONTAGNE: What exactly would you say, or two or three things you would say in order to move an interview along to your advantage?

Mr. MILLER: The first thing is I'd try to make sure they make the first offer. You don't want to put the first number out there because if you put the first number out, it's likely to be low, or you're more likely to undervalue yourself than if you have the company put the offer on the table.

Ms. MILLER: But you also don't want to throw out a number that's absolutely ridiculous on the high end, either, because they'll know either you didn't do your research or maybe you're just overqualified for the job or you're not the right person.

Mr. MILLER: What you need to do is kind of put it back to them and say something like, `Well, it's not about the money. It's really about the job, so tell me what you have budgeted for the job.'

MONTAGNE: If a woman wanted to ask, or bring up day care, what words would you use?

Mr. MILLER: I think I would just ask for money in the sense of a reason to get additional money in some other form, and not have them pay directly for the day care.

Ms. MILLER: Unless you know for a fact that in your research you found that the company is very pro-day care and they have a facility and it's part of their culture.

Mr. MILLER: There's one other thing I'd like to share, and that really is it's very critical for women to feel comfortable negotiating for themselves, because very often women, even women who are excellent negotiators, they don't feel comfortable negotiating for themselves. So what I would advise is ask yourself, `What would I do to negotiate this situation if I was negotiating it for my daughter or my best friend?' and then do that same thing for yourself.

MONTAGNE: Jessica Miller here in Washington, DC, and her father, Lee Miller, speaking from New York, are the authors of "A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating."

Thanks very much.

Ms. MILLER: Thanks for having us.

Mr. MILLER: Thank you, Renee.

INSKEEP: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep with Renee Montagne.

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