NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – It’s probably no surprise to women that men still, on average, make more money than they do. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, last year women made only 77-cents for every dollar that men made.

Experts also say women may be partially responsible for the disparity, because of their hesitance to negotiate. But more women are learning the art right here in North Texas.

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“Women are perceived differently, especially in this southern culture,” SMU Cox MBA student Gina Mussulman said. “We have this thing where we can’t be as aggressive as the guys, and if we are, we’re judged differently.”

Mussulman knows she’s entering a male dominated world, but she’s already working to level the playing field by learning how to negotiate.

SMU Cox School of Business professor Robin Pinkley, Ph.D said, “If you can learn to have an alternative solution, you won’t cave in and you’re comfortable walking away.”

Pinkley is Mussulman’s professor and a sought after speaker. She’s also a passionate advocate for pay equity and says women often don’t get what they’re worth, because women too often don’t ask.

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“They’re more likely to negotiate when they think they’re negotiating on behalf of others,” Pinkley said. “So, one of the things that I recommend for women when they’re negotiating, especially a salary, is to remember who else benefits? Their family.”

Mussulman said she now feels more confident to enter the workforce and to ask for what she’s worth when she does. “I do feel more empowered. I feel stronger in the negotiation and I’m comfortable putting aside [the feeling] ‘I’m a female, and there are certain perceptions of me’ and saying, ‘I’m going to be treated equally and this is what I want to ask for.’”

Experts say that candidates who negotiate their salaries assertively, but not aggressively are perceived better than those who do not negotiate. They also want women to remember to negotiate without emotion and consider the benefits.

Just a note, if everything else but pay is equal women still have to work an extra nine years to make up for the $760,000 difference in starting salaries.

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