Women in the Workplace: Negotiating Your Salary

It’s been established that, historically, women will earn less than their male counterparts for the same work. March 14 is typically noted as Equal Pay Day, marking when women have made the equivalent of what their male colleagues in the same position were paid in the previous calendar year. 

When it comes to asking for a raise, women might find themselves unsure of whether they deserve or have earned one; men rarely have the same concerns or reservations. 

The bottom line is, if you’re a woman doing a great job in her position, and you feel you deserve more pay for the work you do, you are well within your right to start the conversation with your manager! 

Here’s how to negotiate your salary and ask for the raise you have earned:

Look at the big picture.

How would a raise change your approach to work? If you’re seeking a promotion, what do you think that would entail — how much more work would be required and does that fit in with your interests and abilities at the moment? If you’re looking to stay with the company for a number of years, would a promotion or raise provide incentive to stay on that track? Would failing to secure this bump in pay (or title) change your intentions? Determine the reason you’re asking for what you want, and how that fits into your future, and be ready to explain that if asked. 

Do some research.

Many states have made it a requirement to post the expected salary of a newly opened position. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about pay with your colleagues, look online to see how many people in your position are making in other companies. If your company has an opening for a position similar to yours, and your state requires salary information to be included in job postings, see what the range is. Do your best to determine whether your current salary is within the standard amount paid to people in the same job and, if it’s not, be sure to keep this information handy when you negotiate with your manager. 

Know and understand your worth.

Once you have some numbers in mind, it’s time to tell your story. Many managers, especially if they have a large team, have a general idea of who’s responsible for what. But they might not know the day-to-day demands on your to-do list. So let them know! Write out and summarize your responsibilities. Compare what your initial job offer established as your role and note how things have changed. If you’ve proposed and implemented changes that have made your job, or your team, more efficient and/or productive, now’s the time to remind your manager of those developments. If there are numbers associated with your responsibilities and personal wins — you’ve added a certain number of clients or completed a number of projects; you’ve saved a large amount of money through increased efficiency or you’ve brought in a new project that earned the company a big contract — use those details to back up your notes. Also, take a moment to appreciate your own efforts and accomplishments! 

Schedule a meeting with your manager.

This is an important step because it shows you’re taking it seriously and you expect them to as well. If they ask why you’re looking to get time on their calendar, say you’d like to discuss your pay. You might get some dismissive comments or they might try to brush it off, but make it clear in a firm but professional way that you’d like to have a conversation about your future with the company and you’d like a few moments of their time. Scheduling time, as opposed to just popping in, gives them time to open their books and get a little research prepared as well, and a supportive manager who takes you seriously might start looking into whether you’re overdue for a pay increase. 

Be positive but not a pushover.

Women still have to justify their request for a pay raise more often than men do, because traditional gender roles are still built into many corporate structures. But times are changing — you work hard and deserve to get a raise as much as anyone else. Now that you’ve researched pay scales and detailed your workload, present the information clearly, plainly and provide documentation. Be open-minded about the pay raise — your company might not have the budget for additional money, but your manager, not wanting to lose you, might want to offer something else as compensation to help keep you on board until more money is available. Would you accept more vacation time? Flexible hours? If it’s just about the money, would you consider staying on board if no raises are available for six months to a year, if you were promised a pay bump at that time? Go into the meeting with confidence and a sense of your worth and hopefully your manager will meet you where you are. Who knows — maybe you’ll walk out with an even bigger raise than expected! 


The economy might still be a little unsteady but companies that are hiring and expanding their team can be expected to be asked about pay raises. You work hard, you do everything asked of you and then some; you deserve to get a raise and be appreciated for what you do. Hopefully your manager will see and understand that and will work with you to determine a pay rate that meets your needs. 

But if the plea falls flat or you’re brushed off for even asking about a raise, or bringing it up, maybe it’s time to find a new position. Luckily, Debbie’s Staffing can help! We have great positions available with our partner companies and we’d be happy to help you get your foot in the door. Contact Debbie’s Staffing today and let’s help you find a great new job that will value your expertise from the start.