WAGE news

How to Attack the Gender Wage Gap? Speak Up

Sunday, December 16, 2012


ANNIE HOULE, grandmother of seven, holds up a stack of pink dollar bills.

"How many of you know about the wage gap?" she asks a roomful of undergraduates, almost all of them women, at the College of Mount St. Vincent in the Bronx.

A few hands go up.

"Now, how many of you worry about being able to afford New York City when you graduate?"

The room laughs. That's a given.

Ms. Houle is the national director of a group called the WAGE Project, which aims to close the gender pay gap. She explains that her dollar bills represent the amounts that women will make relative to men, on average, once they enter the work force.

Line them up next to a real dollar, and the difference is stark: 77 cents for white women; 69 cents for black women. The final dollar — so small that it can fit in a coin purse, represents 57 cents, for Latina women. On a campus that is two-thirds women, many have heard these numbers before. Yet holding them up next to one another is sobering.

"I'm posting this to Facebook," one woman says.

One of three male students in the room is heading to the photocopier to make copies for his mother.

Another woman in the group sees a triple threat. "This is crazy," Dominique Remy, a senior studying communications, says, holding the pink cutouts in her hand. "What if I'm all of them? My mother is Latina. My father is Haitian. I'm a woman."

I've come to this workshop amazed that it exists — and wishing that there had been a version of it when I was in school.

I grew up in the Girl Power moment of the 1980s, outpacing my male peers in school and taking on extracurricular activities by the dozen. I soared through high school and was accepted to the college of my choice. And yet, when I landed in the workplace, it seemed that I'd had a particularly rosy view.

When I was hired as a reporter at Newsweek, I took the first salary number that was offered; I felt lucky to be getting a job at all.

But a few years in, by virtue of much office whispering and a few pointed questions, I realized that the men around me were making more than I was, and more than many of my female colleagues. Despite a landmark sex discrimination lawsuit filed against the magazine in 1970, which paved the way for women there and at other publications to become writers, we still had a long way to go, it turned out.

When I tried to figure out why my salary was comparatively lower, it occurred to me: couldn't I have simply asked for more? The problem was that I was terrified at the prospect. When I finally mustered up the nerve, I made my pitch clumsily, my voice shaking and my face beet red. I brought along a printed list of my accomplishments, yet I couldn't help but feel boastful saying them out loud. While waiting to hear whether I would get the raise (I did), I agonized over whether I should have asked at all.

This fear of asking is a problem for many women: we are great advocates for others, but paralyzed when it comes to doing it for ourselves.

BACK at the Bronx workshop, Ms. Houle flips on a projector and introduces Tina and Ted, two fictional graduates whose profiles match what's typical of the latest data. Tina and Ted graduated from the same university, with the same degree. They work the same number of hours, in the same type of job. And yet, as they start their first jobs, Ted is making $4,000 more than Tina. In the second year, the difference has added up to almost $9,500. Why?

"Maybe he just talked up his work more," one woman, a marketing major, suggests.

"Maybe he was mentored by other men," another says.

"Or maybe," chimes in a third, a nursing student, "she didn't know that she could negotiate."

Bingo. Over the next three hours, these women are going to learn how to do it — and to do it well.

There has clearly been much progress since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, mandating that men and women be paid equally for equal work. Yet nearly 50 years later, if you look at the data, progress toward that goal has stalled.

Of course, not all statistics are created equal. Some account for education and life choices like childbearing; some don't. But if you sift through the data, the reality is still clear: the gender gap persists — and it persists for young, ambitious, childless women, too.

In October, the American Association of University Women — co-sponsor of the Mount St. Vincent program — offered a report called "Graduating to a Pay Gap," in which it determined that in their first year out of college, women working full time earned just 82 percent of what their male peers did, on average. Again, women's choices — college major, occupation, hours at work — could account for some of this. Even so, the A.A.U.W. determined that one-third of the gap remained unexplained.

For years, legislators and women's advocates have been seeking solutions. In many ways, the wage gap is a complicated problem tied to culture, tradition and politics. But one part of it can be traced to a simple fact: many women just don't negotiate, or are penalized if they do. In fact, they are one-quarter as likely as men to do so, according to statistics from Carnegie Mellon University. So rather than wax academic about the issue, couldn't we simply teach women some negotiation skills?

Ms. Houle, along with Evelyn Murphy, the WAGE Project president and a former Massachusetts lieutenant governor, aims to do just that. For almost seven years, Ms. Houle has been training facilitators around the country and introducing their program into schools. (WAGE stands for "women aim to get even.")

Now, working in conjunction with the A.A.U.W., they plan to have negotiation workshops — called Smart Start — in place by spring in more than 300 colleges and universities nationwide. Nearly 30 colleges have already signed up for three-year commitments.

Several other organizations have also begun working with schools, Girl Scout programs and Y.W.C.A.'s to coach women before they enter the work force.

At Smith College, the Center for Work and Life recently began a program called Leadership for Rebels that teaches young women assertive communication skills, through role-playing and workshops. At Carnegie Mellon, the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management will start its first Negotiation Academy for Women next month, led by the economist Linda Babcock. She is also the founder of a program called "Progress" that aims to teach similar skills to 7- to 12-year-old girls.

"I do think that people are really starting to take this idea seriously," says Professor Babcock, a co-author of "Women Don't Ask." "I think they're starting to understand that we have to train the next generation of women when they're young."

At Mount St. Vincent, the Smart Start workshop is broken into sections: understanding the wage gap, learning one's worth on the market, and practical negotiation, in which students use role-playing in job-offer situations.

Women learn never to name a salary figure first, and to provide a range, not a number, if they're pressed about it. They are coached not to offer up a figure from their last job, unless explicitly asked. The use of terms like "initial offer" — it's not final! — is pounded into them. And, perhaps most important, they learn never, ever, to say yes to an offer immediately.

"I can't tell you how many times I hear stories of women who go into a negotiation saying, ‘Oh my gosh, thank you so much, I'll take it!'" says Ms. Houle, noting that one student she coached even hugged her boss. "Here these women are, more educated than ever, incurring incredible debt to get that education, and they're going to take whatever they're offered. It's like, ‘No, no, no!' "

Many reasons exist for women's fears about asking for higher pay.

There's the fear of being turned down. ("I think we take rejection personally," Ms. Murphy says.) There's the economy. (If you negotiate in a tough market, might the offer be rescinded?) There's the fact that women, in general, are less likely to take risks — a business asset in the long run, but one that can make advocating for themselves tricky. There's also the reality that many women have internalized the idea that asking is somehow not ladylike.

"Girls and women intuit that speaking up can be dangerous to your reputation — that asking for too much can be viewed as conceited or cocky," says Rachel Simmons, co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute and a creator of the Leadership for Rebels program at Smith. "This may begin on the playground, but it extends all the way into the workplace."

Research by the Harvard senior lecturer Hanna Riley Bowles and others has found that women who negotiate are considered pushy and less likable — and, in some cases, less likely to be offered jobs as a result.

That's why women's approach to negotiation is crucial. In one study, from Professor Babcock at Carnegie Mellon, men and women asked for raises using identical scripts. People liked the men's style. But the women were branded as aggressive — unless they gave a smile while they asked, or appeared warm and friendly. In other words, they conformed to feminine stereotypes.

"The data shows that men are able to negotiate for themselves without facing any negative consequences, but when women negotiate, people often like them less and want to work with them less," says Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, whose forthcoming book "Lean In" is about women and leadership. "Even if women haven't studied this or seen this data, they often implicitly understand this, so they hold back."

So, it's a balancing act. Ask, but ask nicely. Demand, but with a smile. It's not fair — yet understanding these dynamics can be the key to overcoming them, Ms. Sandberg says.

The good news is that all of these things can be learned. In 2003, when Professor Babcock was conducting research for her book, she surveyed Carnegie Mellon graduates of the management school, determining that 13 percent of women had negotiated the salaries in the jobs they'd accepted, versus 52 percent of men. Four years later, after a lengthy book tour and talking relentlessly about these issues on campus, she found that the numbers had flipped: 68 percent of women negotiated, versus 65 percent of men.

Ms. Simmons put it this way: "This is about muscles that need to be developed. This is about practice."

AND practice they will, one workshop at a time.

At the session at Mount St. Vincent, the women researched median wages and practiced speaking clearly and warmly. They tried to remember the three T's: tone (be positive but persuasive), tactics (never name a salary figure first) and tips (sell yourself, but anticipate objections; don't get too personal, but be personal enough).

"It was nerve-racking," said Ria Grant, a nursing student.

"I stuttered," recalled Danielle Heumegni, a sociology major.

And yet they felt good.

"I realized there's a way to sell myself without feeling uncomfortable," Dominique Remy said.

"You won't get anything if you don't at least try," said Erika Pichardo.

"This," Ms. Heumegni said, waving her set of pink dollar bills in the air, "was my aha! moment."

Jessica Bennett is the executive editor of Tumblr.


WAGE Page June 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012


WAGE Women are Getting Even
$tart $mart Leaders Circle is Soaring
The $tart $mart Leaders Circle, a group of Facilitators who have committed to recruiting or facilitating at least one $tart $mart workshop in 2012, is a huge success. To date, we have 73 leaders who are working hard to broaden $tart $mart’s reach across the country. We recently asked them to report on their progress and here are some of the exciting things they had to share.
Amy Blackwell is gearing up to offer several $tart $mart workshops this fall at Metropolitan State College of Denver. Liz Fragola of Massachusetts is working with two new schools in the Boston area, Endicott College and Merrimack College. Both of these schools have recently become C/U partners with AAUW. Koggie Hakenjos, a newly trained $$ facilitator is already hard at work recruiting workshops at Delgado Community College and Xavier in New Orleans. She is also helping with the AAUW National Convention to make a big plug for the $tart $mart program. Jean Johnson and Arlene Bunt are meeting with the Director of Career Services and about 10 others from Arizona State University to discuss $tart $mart.  They are also targeting Estrella Mountain Community College. Karyl Lyne, also a newly trained $$ Facilitator is working with New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas to schedule and facilitate a workshop this fall. Roxanne Male-Brune of Ohio University has already hosted two successful workshops this May. Linda O’Hara of Oregon State,  Patrece Robinsonof Stetson University in Florida, Jodi Solito of Slippery Rock, Joan Manley from Florida Gulf Cost U, Stephanie Spencer from Wright State in Ohio, and Michelle Scatton-Tessier of UNC Wilmington all wrote in to say that they are definitely hosing $tart $mart again this fall.  Linda O’Hara and Turea Erwin are working to schedule several workshops in the Pacific Northwest this fall. If you are a $tart $mart Leader and have scheduled a workshop for the fall, please let us know as soon as possible so we can put it on the calendar.
If you are interested in becoming a $tart $mart Leader, please contact Dorrie Sieburg at dorriesieburg@gmail.com.
$tart $mart Promotional Video
Campuses hosting the $tart $mart workshop will now have a boost in their advertising with a new promotional video. The video was created by Get Even.org. Get Even is the result of the Equality Initiative partnership—a collaboration among Catalyst, the National Council for Research on Women and The White House Project. Catalyst approached WAGE to see if we could use the video in our programming. The video does an excellent job of defining what the wage gap is and how it affects all of us. We feel it will be an effective motivator for young women on campuses to attend our workshops. We are asking sponsoring schools to email this video to their target audiences. To preview the video or if you are interested in using the video to promote your upcoming workshop or as a tool to create interest in scheduling workshops, please contact Dorrie Sieburg dorriesieburg@gmail.comand she will edit it to reflect your workshop details or other pertinent information.
Three Year Licensees Are Growing
We are proud to announce that several new schools have signed 3 Year licenses with $tart $mart. Northwestern University, Oregon State University, San Diego state University, University of Hawaii, Denison University and theOffice of Women’s Policy , San Jose, CA have all made commitments to offer $tart $mart workshops over the next three years. We are thrilled to have these organizations working so hard to promote equal pay.
Leave a Legacy
The U.S. Senate voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act on June 5th. That is why WAGE's grassroots efforts throughout America to get women paid fairly, especially young women about to graduate as they begin their careers, is even more important. WAGE is the only national organization dedicated solely to eliminating the gender wage gap! If Congress cannot pass a stronger law, then we must pass along a stronger legacy--enable every working woman to know what she is worth in the job she holds or seeks and learn the skills of effective salary negotiation. That's the WAGE legacy. We do it every day on campuses, in community organizations, in hospitals, in businesses.

If you are someone who is passionate about pay equity, but do not plan on facilitating a workshop, consider making a donation to The WAGE Project to help underwrite $tart $mart workshops across the country or in your area. Please Go to www.wageproject.org and click on Donate Now.


WAGE Page March 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012


WAGE Page March 2012


WAGE Congratulates Campuses for Their Three Year Commitments to $tart $mart Workshops.


To date, 12  colleges and universities have secured licenses enabling them to offer the $tart $mart workshop as often as they wish for three years.  The first campus to make such a commitment to three years of workshops was the University of Cincinnati, followed by the University of Missouri, the University of New Mexico, the University of Texas at Tyler, Wright State University, Xavier University, the University of Hawaii, Harvard University, Miami University of Ohio, Northwestern University, Virginia Tech, and the AAUW of Colorado. (Dorrie—I looked over your list and there were a couple campuses that I determine whether or not they have paid up yet, specifically CA U of Pa and FGCU. Please check this list—the ones I listed, these two question marks, and any others I overlooked. I is important that the list we mail in the wAGE page is perfect!)


From these campuses we are gaining insights and understanding of value to every campus workshop initiatives. For example, the AAUW of Colorado reminds us that the most important  part of planning a workshop is ensuring that workshops do not coincide with school holidays and breaks.  ____(Sharberi Dey’s institution) suggests outreach to a wide variety of offices, including career services, the graduate school, student activities, the corps of cadets, multicultural programs and human resources. Campus newspapers, campus television stations, local newspapers have been tapped by many of these three year institutions.  (Dorrie—these may not be the best examples. They are ones that just popped out at me from a quick glance at the surveys you passed along to me. Feel free to use some other examples either to replace or augment these. If you decide to augment, they since I haven’t gotten the evaluation info from your mom, let’s just make this WAGE Page two items—1. Featuring our licensees; and 2 announcement of fees going up.)


By summer 2012, we will distribute a full report on the lessons gained from these licensees. Yet the most important early lesson is that, on these campuses, the license has enabled these campuses to double the number of workshops they offer—and in some cases even more, and that means many more women can start their work lives paid fairly.



Announcing $tart $mart fees for academic year 2012-2013 (Sept 1, 2012-June 1,2013)


We make every effort to keep the fees for $tart $mart workshops as reasonable as possible in order to encourage participation on every campus in the country. Yet, we must cover the our costs in order to provide support for the vast network of campuses now participating in this program. So, we want to inform you a modest increases in the workshop feesl


Beginning the next academic year, 2012-2013, the fee for the first $tart $mart workshop on a campus will be $650, and $350 for repeat workshops during that academic year. The fee for any $tart $mart workshop that  has already scheduled a date for the coming academic year or that sets a date before April 30, 2012 will continue to be $600.


Beginning June 1, 2012 the fee for being trained to facilitate a $tart $mart workshop will be $100 per person. Anyone already registered for a training session this academic year will still  be charged $50.


Beginning June 1, 2012, any trained facilitator charged $100 will be reimbursed $50 after facilitating and/or recruiting two campus workshops.



WAGE Page June 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011





$tart $mart WORKS!



Preliminary results of (anonymous) evaluations from participants in the $tart $mart workshops throughout the country have startled us! We have consistently observed enthusiastic engagement by students in these workshops. Yet we have not had sufficient capacity to systematically assess the impact of these workshops on students. During the last several months, the AAUW has accumulated evaluations and tallied responses. Here are two dramatic findings:


First, before the workshop, 5% of the students knew how to objectively determine the salary range for the job they wanted after graduation and their worth in this range. After the workshop 99% could do so!


Second, before the workshop, over 40% of the students reported that they had no confidence they could negotiate for the salary and benefits that matched their education and experience. Of those who said they were confident, only 6% were “very” or “extremely” confident. After the workshop, 100% of the participants said they were confident they could negotiate a fair salary, and fully 54% were “very” or “extremely” confident!


To be effective at salary negotiation, a young woman starting her career needs to be objective about her worth in the marketplace and confident that she can negotiate effectively. By both these measures, within the two to three hours of this workshop, $tart $mart has real impact on a young woman’s earnings opportunities.


$tart $mart Statistics


In partnership with the AAUW, 112 $tart $mart workshops were presented in the most recent academic year, a 40% growth over the previous year. Thirty one new campuses offered workshops. In all, over 200 $tart $mart workshops have now been offered in 35 states and Washington, DC. This year, WAGE licensed four campuses—University of Cincinnati, University of Colorado at Denver, Virginia Tech University and the University of Texas at Tyler— allowing them to conduct unlimited numbers of workshops during the next three academic years.


Seventeen Facilitator Training workshops were held adding another 127 more facilitators trained to conduct workshops in the 2011-2012 academic year. In all, WAGE has trained over 800 women throughout the country.


A complete list of the community colleges, colleges and universities that have offered $tart $mart workshops is attached to this WAGE Page.







2011:  Work $mart Workshops


Salary negotiation workshops for working women from a variety of professional sectors have been conducted this year. Among them, the following


--In January, 2011, led by Mary Lynds, Accounting Supervisor with Constantino Richards Rizzo, LLP and sponsored by the Women in Accounting Subcommittee of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants, a Work $mart workshop “Finding Your Value” was conducted for 40 women accountants in Natick Massachusetts;


In March, Dr. Kee Chan invited WAGE to conduct a workshop sponsored by American Women in Science(AWIS) at Boston University in Boston, MA. Two years earlier, AWIS sponsored salary negotiation workshop in Cambridge MA for other women scientists and engineers in the Boston metropolitan area.


--in May 2011, two workshops, one for faculty, the other for staff, were held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, sponsored by the Vice Provost’s office. Evaluations of the workshop led the Vice Provost to inform WAGE that “your session received unanimous, outstanding evaluations.  In the history of my office, no program has ever received ratings as high as these!”


--In May, with leadership from Dr. Lyssette Cardona and Dr. Maria Diaz, a salary negotiation workshops was conducted for several dozen women physicians at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, FL.



Upcoming $tart $mart Facilitator Training

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Upcoming $tart $mart Facilitator Trainings


July 14, 2009- Atlanta, GA- Georgia Institute of Technology, Student Services Building, 1-4PM, Room 117, 353 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30332

July 17, 2009 - Hendersonville, NC- Time and Place to be determined. If you are interested in this training, contact Annie Houle [ahoule@wageproject.org] or Nancy Shoemaker [shoemaker@acm.org]

July 21, 2009- Raleigh, NC Contact Annie Houle, ahoule@wageproject.org, for details


August 5, 2009 - California University of Pennsylvania [Western PA] - Lunch 11:00 AM till noon, workshop noon until 3:00 PM, contact Annie Houle for more information or to register

August 6, 2009- University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio- 5:00 to 8:00 PM, location to be announced, contact Annie or Lisa Rismiller, lisa.rismiller@udayton.edu if you are interested

August 10, 2009- Minneapolis/Saint Paul- $tart $mart Workshop for STEM students at the University of MN, followed by a Facilitator Training . Contact Debra Fitzpatrick at harex004@umn.edu or Annie Houle

August 15, 2009- Ohio Wesleyan University- Delaware, OH, Conrades-Wetherell Science Center 1:30 to 4:30 [contact Annie Houle or Diane Regan, dregan@bgsu.edu for more information]

August 17, 2009- West Chester, PA- 10AM to 1:00PM, Contact Annie Houle or Dot McLane [dotmclane@comcast.net]

Other states that are planning training are: Michigan, Texas, California, Florida, and New Jersey. If you are interested in helping to bring the $tart $mart Facilitator training or a $tart $mart Campus Workshop to your state, please contact Annie Houle ahoule@wageproject.org or Katie Schindler at wageks@gmail.com.



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