WOOSTER, Ohio — The workplace is fraught with inequity, particularly when it comes to wages and gender, but women now have an ally to help them close the gap.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) — the members of which know all about wage discrimination — is sponsoring workshops at colleges and universities across the country, including one at The College of Wooster earlier this month, to help women entering the job market get what they deserve.
“When the AAUW offered to sponsor this workshop at the College, we felt it would be valuable for our students, especially seniors,” said Marylou LaLonde, assistant director of Career Planning at Wooster, who helped to coordinate the event with Dorrie Sieberg of the WAGE (Women are Getting Even) Project. “Many of the attendees were surprised to learn how the gender wage gap could begin in their first job and continually grow wider throughout one’s career. Students told me afterward they felt empowered with tools to assist them in the salary-negotiation process. These are important skills they can use throughout their lives.”
According to a 2013 AAUW study, titled “Graduating to a Pay Gap,” women working full time receive 82 percent of what their male counterparts are paid. In order to reverse that trend, women must be properly informed, and that’s why members of the local AAUW branch sponsored a $tart $mart workshop, which was developed by the WAGE Project, a national grassroots organization established to “enable every working woman in America to be paid what she is worth.”
“The AAUW has remained committed to empowering women as individuals and as a community since 1881,” said Anita Greene, one of the organization’s local leaders who helped spearhead the effort to bring the workshop to campus. “For more than 130 years, the AAUW has worked to improve the lives of millions of women and their families.”
The workshop in Wooster, which drew close to 25 senior women, covered important negotiation/interview information and provided an overview of the gender wage gap: what it is, how it happens, and why it persists. “The college women were taught how to benchmark their salary, determine the right job title, and identify the salary range for the job in their location,” said Greene. “They were also shown how to research market conditions, benchmark benefits, develop a budget, and calculate a minimum acceptable salary.”
Workshop facilitator Julie Graber, who led the 90-minute presentation, suggested that women are partly responsible for the wage gap because they undervalue their skill set and are willing to take less because they “need the job.”
The workshop concluded with a tutorial on salary negotiation, beginning with the importance of being positive, persuasive, and flexible while taking great care to listen carefully. Graber also reviewed the tactics of negotiation, including resisting the temptation to name a salary figure before receiving an offer. In addition, she advised the women to sell themselves, anticipate objections, and avoid becoming personal.
Abby Rodenfels, a senior religious studies major from Waynesville, found the session to be extremely helpful. “What I appreciated most were the resources that were provided, particularly the benchmark salaries listed for various markets,” she said. “That really helps applicants to determine their worth. I now feel much better prepared for the job search and negotiation process.”
Vanessa Logan, a physics and computer science double major from Pittsburgh, was equally impressed. “I had no idea how to go about [salary] negotiations,” she said. “The workshop was very beneficial. I hope more students will take advantage of it in the future.”
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