Beat Wage Discrimination: How Women Can Get Paid as Much as Male Colleagues

Marisa Torrieri

equal payWhen Gozde Aksay moved from Seattle to New York City in 2010 to work for a big financial firm, she was so excited to get the offer, she didn’t negotiate her salary or think to inquire what others in her position made.

“I didn’t really know how expensive New York City was, so when HR asked what I wanted, I said a number, and they said, ‘Alright,’” the 31-year-old software developer recalls. “Throughout my employment that base salary stuck with me, and I didn’t get a promotion because they always told us the company wasn’t doing any better after the crisis.”

A few months later, a male co-worker in her department accidentally revealed his salary in a conversation.

“I realized he was making 30% more than me,” she says.

While Aksay stops short of calling her lower salary the result of gender discrimination, her experience was unsettling. She ultimately left the firm. “I did feel I dealt with salary inequality,” she says. “I now can see that I should have negotiated my salary when joining [the firm].”

While Aksay didn’t try to negotiate for pay equivalent to that of her male colleague, the experience inspired her to create Salary Fairy, a crowdsourcing platform and career site that offers personalized salary predictions based on job type and other variables.

RELATED: What Are Your ‘High-Earning Years’? A Guide to Your Pay in Your 20s, 30s and 40s

But unfortunately, Aksay’s experience is all too common.

You’ve probably heard that a full-time working woman makes 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. That stat is a major talking point of not only equal-pay advocacy organizations but of President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

Recently, a New Yorker article about the firing of former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, which suggested she was let go after she raised concerns about being paid less than her male predecessor, has only amplified the national conversation. Here, we offer some advice for women who are concerned about not getting paid on par with their male colleagues—and tips on how to bridge the wage gap.

  • jo jo jackson

    I am very nonassertive and have rarely negotiated for anything
    this will be a scary but necessary skill for me to try. What do I have to lose? I’ve never made much salary…even though I have worked very hard and long hours in the past.

  • Thrifty Writer

    I would say that the one place where the negotiation tactics post-acceptance of the job won’t work, is in the non-profit world. I under-asked (probably not by a huge amount, but since I got no fight back, I definitely under-asked) my salary at a non-profit, and now I’m stuck getting only (at the most) the 3% COLA raise every year. Our board of directors pretty much sticks to 1 – 3% when it comes to raises, and it’s hard to argue with a non-profit that is run with a trim budget.