Money is not inherently dirty and it is not a character flaw in women to want more of it. . . Asking to be properly remunerated for what you do doesn’t make you arrogant or selfish or greedy. Dealing fairly but firmly in pay negotiations does not make you an aggressive b!tch. It makes you smart.
Right on! Except–as I noted when Dr. Crazy posted about this a few months ago–pay inequities will still exist even if every woman in the world negotiates her salary just like her male peers. (What–you thought that patriarchal equilibrium was due to women not driving a hard bargain with job offers? Sorry, darlings! Patriarchal equilibrium stops for no woman.) While negotiating is absolutely the right way to go, the fact remains that women are still expected to work for less money or for free not because they didn’t negotiate, but because they’re women. And, women who act like professionals and negotiate their salary may be treated poorly and have it held against them, as my own experience bears out. (Remember Mister “This isn’t a game to me!” ?) I still think it was worth it to negotiate–but the fact is that while individuals and institutions expect men to negotiate, negotiating in women is gender queer, and is likely to be read as more “aggressive” and “pushy” in women than in men, so it’s not likely to be rewarded in the same way that it’s rewarded in men. Mission accomplished! Salary gap preserved.
Interestingly, when Bavardess’s post came across the transom, I was already planning to highlight this question at Inside Higher Ed’s “Survival Guide” advice column from a senior woman scholar about how to achieve salary parity with the men in her department:
I am a senior faculty member at a large, well-known research university. I am on excellent terms with my colleagues and with the head of my unit. My productivity in teaching, research and scholarship has been consistently deemed to be high. Here is the problem: In my unit, I am the only woman at senior faculty rank and my salary has consistently been significantly lower than that of my peers. After consultation with various campus officials to understand the university’s policies on faculty salary equity, I now know that the discrepancy between my salary and that of my peers is greater, and has been for over five years, than the university threshold for filing a request for a formal salary equity review. I have remained on excellent terms with the head of my academic unit throughout his tenure here that includes all or most of that period. In the past, I have corresponded with him about this issue with what I thought were convincing letters documenting both salary inequities with my peers as well as my professional accomplishments and contributions to our unit, to the college, and to the university. Last year’s response? “Money is tight right now and we just don’t have enough to go around.” I do not want to “play the game” of soliciting outside offers and I don’t really want to leave. Yet I cannot let this unfair situation — a clear case of persistent gender salary discrimination — persist any longer. What are my options?
Shorter response from C. K. Gunslaus: Stop being nice. Your chair is putting you off because it’s more important for you to be nice than for you to be fairly paid. “You must stop saying that you’re neither going to file a grievance nor seek outside offers. Right now. Never say or write either of those statements again, because you don’t mean them and they’re not helpful. Don’t let your unit head off the hook before the process even starts.” Then, let your chair know that you think he’s a nice, fair person so of course he’ll want to correct this blatant injustice.
Shorter advice from Historiann: If he puts you off again, file the formal salary equity review, and if possible, apply for every job out there and be sure you let him and your Dean know if you get any campus interviews. Your chair is counting on you being nice, and that may be important to your own self-image but get over it if you want to right this wrong. It’s pretty much impossible for women to be “nice” and get paid what they’re worth. Either accept the (lower) wages of niceness, or decide that the money (and the fairness) is more important than if someone thinks you’re being a b!tch. You may get called that name, maybe even to your face, but won’t those extra thousands of dollars make it all worthwhile?