Show me the Money: The Importance of Learning Your Worth

May 03, 2010

A recent article in the New York Times on financial literacy informs us that, unfortunately, many Americans are not fluent in the language of money, and our schools are doing very little to educate students about the importance of personal finance. This type of training is invaluable and will help students learn to invest early as well as gain realistic life lessons that will prove to be necessary to their future financial stability.

An article in the Harvard Business Review indicates that there may even be a pay gap among women based on whether or not they decide to change their last name when they get married. The article recognizes the notion that even our personal choices can have an impact on our professional potential.

It is essential for students to understand the worth of their experiences and educational background when it comes to negotiating salaries. AAUW and the WAGE Project have partnered to encourage women to “$tart $mart,” because a difference of even $5,000 as a starting base salary can lead to a $1.2 million dollar loss over one’s working life. $tart $mart Salary Negotiation Workshops cover the personal consequences of the gender wage gap, resources for benchmarking reasonable salaries and benefits, negotiation skills, and how to know your bottom line.

AAUW and the WAGE Project held the first $tart $mart facilitator training and Salary Negotiation Workshop in Washington, D.C., at George Washington University last month. The facilitator training was a huge success; more than 15 GW staff members and AAUW members were trained to educate women on negotiating the salaries they deserve. I was happy to see that two men became trained facilitators and were excited to take part in the effort to close the pay gap.

The student workshop had almost 50 students in attendance and allowed students to discuss their involvements; develop a budget based on rent, food, student loans, etc.; learn how to research what type of salary they should be paid for the types of positions they are applying to; and, most important, gain practical skills for negotiating salaries in a variety of different scenarios.

GW students at $tart $mart Salary Negotiation Workshop

GW students at $tart $mart Salary Negotiation Workshop

I helped facilitate a second $tart $mart Workshop at GW for students graduating with their master’s in public health last week. The workshop allowed many of the women to conceptualize how easy it is for the gender wage gap to happen, and they learned that they are their own best advocate.

The WAGE website provides excellent resources by allowing women to calculate what their job is actually worth as well as how bonuses and benefits are factored in. Additionally the Paycheck City website allows individuals to use a salary paycheck calculator in order to plan accordingly and figure out tax deductions.

At the close of both workshops a few students identified their “ah-ha moments,” which included the importance of being confident, how essential it is to do research, learning to leave salary requirements blank, not being afraid to ask for additional benefits to make up for lower salary ranges, and how and when to start the negotiation process.

I personally gained a great deal at this workshop and had a few “ah-ha moments” of my own. I was empowered to learn that I should never be afraid to negotiate what I am worth. This is an amazing workshop and definitely a worthwhile opportunity to bring to your campus. Fill out the form on the AAUW website to get involved!

By:   |   May 03, 2010

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