Why don’t women negotiate their salaries? Not #destroyingthejoint properly!
Many Australian women will recognise the Twitter hash tags #destroyingthejoint and #destroythejoint. These arose after a certain Sydney radio announcer decided to let loose a vitriolic barrage against women in senior positions, claiming they were “destroying the joint”. While I am sure Alan Jones probably would fit in well with the men found in articles I have previously written:
many Australian women (including, of course, yours truly) took exception to his tone. It must be said that many men also took exception! A DestroyTheJoint Facebook page and a website have been established by one particularly defiant female. A Twitter account is doing nicely!
The hash tags are in everyday use – if you are a Tweeple, search for yourself and see!
Today a Guardian article was brought to my attention. As I reached the mid-way point of the article, I nearly retched my tea. We all know that women still seem to earn less than men for the same jobs. Unless said woman is the CEO of the Westpac Bank – she earns ….. a lot.
Research has shown while 57% of the men surveyed had negotiated their starting salaries, only 7% of the women had done so. Women “just don’t ask”. Women accept the initial offer without negotiation. This stunned me. Naturally, after that point, even if every pay rise is the same percentage irrespective of gender, over the term of a working life the man is going to be that much better off! About half a million dollars better off, actually.
Women weren’t bad at negotiating in general – on behalf of the company, say, or for their children or friends – but they were reluctant to negotiate for themselves.
I thought this fitted the #destroyingthejoint hash tag perfectly: we need to DO something about this! I was surprised my #destroyingthejoint sisters didn’t seem to pick up on it. So surprised I’m writing about it now!
We aren’t Destroying The Joint well enough!
I have personal experience, being a woman and all. I admit I have rarely negotiated my starting salary. In my current position I did. What was different? At the time, I was the breadwinner for a family of six. I didn’t know when my husband may be able to start earning an income. I had to feed us! Yet single professional women are also breadwinners. Even many coupled women are the main breadwinner. I wasn’t alone. Yet I have to say it felt odd to me. Different somehow. I didn’t feel comfortable.
Yes, women can be fierce protecting others: children, family, friends or staff. We aren’t so fierce when it comes to protecting ourselves!
I have two step-daughters who originate from a patriarchal society. I want them to be able to negotiate their salaries when the time comes. This was an important epiphany for me, not just personally. I have to make sure I give these girls the strength to negotiate for THEMSELVES.
Men are raised knowing they have to work all their lives. While women have achieved much equality, perhaps we still don’t, deep down, see ourselves as the breadwinners and therefore we don’t feel the urge to negotiate. I remember my own feelings about it. I remember commenting to friends it felt odd.
Maybe we only have ourselves to blame for those lower salaries. We didn’t ask. Could YOU be earning 7.6% more than you are if you had negotiated?
This got me thinking about gender equality in other ways. One I considered was Mr Abbott’s statement there was “a target on the PM’s forehead“. Much has recently be made in the mainstream media about this being an indication of Tony Abbott’s perceived misogyny. I am no fan of Mr Abbott’s: those who don’t believe me, please pop over to Where are the REAL Liberals? to see for yourself.
What if Australia’s Prime Minister were a male? Would Tony Abbott have used the same phrase? If he had, we wouldn’t be able to condemn it as his “problem with women”. We should, in that instance, consider it an unacceptable Use of Language in Society, but not misogynistic. Given his university days and at least one almost fisticuffs pub episode, I think he may have used the phrase irrespective of the gender of the PM. I want to make it very clear, I am NOT saying Tony doesn’t have a problem with women. What I am asking is if we want equality, perhaps we get it in ways we don’t particularly like sometimes. I’m not sure we can choose. I am using this as an isolated illustration only!
For those interested in an analysis of the treatment of the Prime Minister, I recommend Anne Summers “Her Rights at Work (R-rated)” addressing the topic of the political persecution of the Prime Minister.