Jasmine Wung, '19, in collaboration with Andrea Skimbo, the associate director of the Center for Career & Professional Development, hosted an event to raise awareness about the wage gap across the globe. The event was co-hosted with the Center for Gender Equity. (Shana Lichaw/B&W Staff)

Negotiating the Wage Gap event educates women on salary negotiations

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During her Iacocca internship in Prague last summer, Jasmine Wung, ’19, was inspired by an event her host organization, Otevrena Spolecnost, planned to spread awareness about the gender wage gap. Wung decided to bring the lessons she learned abroad back to the Lehigh community.

Her efforts paid off on March 27, when the Center for Gender Equity hosted Negotiating the Wage Gap.

Wung, a CGE intern, co-led the event with Aly Duffin, ’21, a student staff member, and Andrea Skimbo, the associate director of the Center for Career & Professional Development.

Skimbo stressed the importance of negotiating the salary of a first job, because that starting salary can affect future earnings.

While a few thousand dollars may not seem like much of a difference when compared to male counterparts, over time this adds up to more than women may realize, which is why Skimbo said women must negotiate.

Wung said women are less likely than men to negotiate salary, which can end up costing them up to $1 million in their lifetimes.

“It’s not super easy, it’s not going to feel comfortable,” Skimbo said.

Undergraduate women filled the room for the event, eager to learn about the most important factors to consider when negotiating salaries: where the job is located, the job’s industry, the salary of similar positions in different companies, and experience level.

Though progress has been made in closing the gender gap, Wung said institutional sexism and stereotypes are still present in the workplace. She said women are less likely to negotiate than men because women fear they may be seen as overly aggressive.

“We socialize women to fit into what we think women should be, like docile, complacent, don’t challenge authority, be grateful for what you’re given,” Wung said. “I think it’s really hard to override that and push yourself to not fit into those stereotypes or expectations, but the more we talk about it the easier it will be.”

Wung and Duffin began their presentation by showing commercials from Bud Light and Audi, two companies that have stated they are working to close the gender wage gap.

However, the wage gap doesn’t just exist between men and women. Wung clarified that race, ethnicity, nationality, weight and social class also contribute to salaries.

Zoe Topaz, ’21, said she knew a gender wage gap existed but didn’t realize how wide it was.

“It’s important to me, as a woman and college student who will enter the workforce,” Topaz said. “I need to be aware about inequity in negotiations so that I can set myself up for the most success possible in my career.”

Negotiating the Wage Gap was part of a series of events Wung has been planning since August. The other events included Cookie for Change and a lunch and learn about the transgender wage gap.

“I have heard about inequity in negotiations and about the wage gap,” Topaz said, “but this event confirmed just how present and important it is.”

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3 Comments

  1. Amy Charles '89 on

    Oh my god. Can we please lay to rest the incredibly sexist and diversionary lie that women don’t negotiate? Women negotiate ALL THE FREAKING TIME and happen to be quite good at it. That’s how we get so much done with no money and in the face of so much institutional sexism. The missing words in the criticism are “women don’t negotiate the way men like to think of themselves as negotiating” — meaning, of course, that not only don’t men actually operate that way, but if a woman did do it, they’d decide she was an entitled and deeply unlikeable bitch, and find a way to get rid of her.

    How to deal with the wage gap: the same way we eventually have to deal with all bias that ends in robbing people. You make it illegal and you enforce the law. Expensively. You break the careers of men who persist in robbing women of labor. You expose the companies that are most criminal about it. Which, incidentally, is exactly what’s happening in Britain, literally today. Check the Guardian’s front page.

    Oh. How do you get those laws? Including German-style quota laws for diversifying corporate boards? You vote for women. You vote for people of color. Because we already know, from study after study, that real change in the culture of an organization starts when a third of the leadership is women.

  2. Amy Charles '89 on

    In fact, here’s a model here. The results of the wage-gap legislation in Britain are causing earthquakes there, and my guess is there’ll be more to follow now that actual wage gaps at actual, individual companies are exposed.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/12/harriet-harman-gender-pay-gap-equal-act-saturday-interview

    I fully expect, btw, that these are whitewashed numbers and that a lot of lies will also be exposed, making these companies look much, much worse. But this is no different from dealing with any other supremacists. They don’t want equality, they don’t want fairness or equity, they only want to grab for themselves and find whatever justifications they can invent about how they deserve more — much more — than everyone else, and are entitles to steal peopl’s labor. And you just have to keep on beating them back into the corner, since it seems to be a persistant pathology we’re never really rid of.

    Anyway. Olivia, others, don’t get nice-girled into submission here, where you’re told it’s because you’re doing something wrong, so do these six impossible things and you’ll find…oh, that the goalposts have moved, try these six other impossible things. Just go grab the power to make changes, which in this country happens in the legislatures and courts. And use the powers that already exist without being afraid that people won’t like you for it. Those people will only like you if you’re a nice girl making nice by letting them rob and use you how they will.

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