Ask for more

Given that women make up 50 percent of the world’s population, having one day out of 365 designated as a day of observance or honor or awareness-raising (or whatever the point of it is) seems inadequate to the point of insult.

Nevertheless, since we’ve only got a few minutes left in International Women’s Day, I’d like to make a small contribution to women’s advancement in the form of a piece of advice:

Ladies, ask for more money.

When you are offered a job, counter with a higher salary. Men are doing it right out of college and often getting what they ask for—meaning they’re starting their working career with a higher salary than you for the same work. Higher base salary means bigger raises and bonuses. And every time men trade up, they’re trading up proportionately higher, and get farther and farther ahead.

This isn’t an issue of fairness or discrimination, it’s simply business: you won’t get it if you don’t ask for it. As the hiring manager, you bet I’m going to pay you less if you tell me that you’re happy earning $40,000 in a job I’m paying someone else $45,000 to do.

Women freelancers routinely charge a lower hourly rate than men. So if you’re consulting, take your current rate, add 50 percent and start billing this rate to new customers tomorrow. Tell your existing customers you’re going to phase them into the new rate over two years. Like magic, in two years you will be making 50 percent more than you are now, and I’m sure you could use that money.

In the U.S., women working full time earn 80 percent of what men do. Do you think that’s because we’re doing less work, or that our work is only four-fifths as good? Of course not! You don’t believe that, so find out what your male counterparts are making and ask for the same or better.

Do us all a favor and stop undervaluing yourself. Ask for more.