Women Leaving Money On The Table

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There is nothing I loathe more than asking for money. To this day, I will buy all of my kids’ fundraising candy bars and endless rolls of wrapping paper to keep myself from peddling products.

So, you can only imagine how much I hate the idea of asking for a raise.

Turns out, I’m not alone. One of my duties this week was to help enhance a colleague’s story about how to ask for more money. So, I reached out to Linda Babcock, a professor at Carnegie Melon University, for the research underlying her book “Women Don’t Ask.”

Babcock explained that men are four times more likely to ask for more money, even in their very first negotiation of their very first job. That means, over the course of a career, women are leaving some $2 million on the table — simply because they don’t ask!

I know, I know. Stop it with the “What the @#$%?! $2 million dollars? What kind of job does SHE have?!”

Got it. But that is NOT the point. The point is that we women are acquiescing to stereotypes: that women simply don’t care about cash. We only care about others. We care about fulfillment, self-actualization and making this world a better place.

Well, I’m here to say, yes, that’s exactly what we care about. But you know what? We care about salary, too.

If you are like me, you are the sole breadwinner of your family. You are doing whatever it takes to put your kids through college and are still going home to proof research papers, do laundry, craft homecoming mums, quiz your son on his vocab words, and get your daughter’s hair highlighted, so she can feel beautiful and go on to become the woman she is meant to be.

What I found most interesting is that Babcock’s research confirms what I have believed in my heart to be true for decades: that even in this enlightened age, we women must still maintain our warmth and softness while trying to ask for more money. We cannot come across as overly aggressive, or we will put our careers at risk.

Are these earth-shaking findings? No. Are they revealing? Yes.

Babcock recommends we ladies stop selling ourselves short. And we improve our negotiating skills through practice. She even suggests we credit the approval of our superiors, “My team leader suggested I ask for a raise!”

Wow. Complex messages in a complex world.

Ladies, please share your best advice in navigating these choppy waters. Based on the email I received after our story aired, I am deeply concerned that we women may never be paid what we deserve.

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