Wage Gap Woes: The Smart Woman’s Guide To Confident, Assertive Leadership In Law Firms

Americans are told that for every dollar a man earns, a woman in the same job earns just 77 cents. But, a new bill signed in Massachusetts this year is paving the way for better female wages.

In August, Republican Governor Charlie Baker promoted equal pay for men and women doing substantially similar work by signing a law that prevents employers from requiring applicants to disclose salary history “as a condition of being interviewed, or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment,” according to The Atlantic.

Imagine that—in the past—an employer asked you to disclose how much your earned at your previous job. If that salary was significantly below what the new employer was willing to pay, the employer might reconsider and offer a lower wage.

For women stuck in the wage gap, this type of strategic scenario would maintain income inequality between the sexes.

“Women can be tethered to past salaries in a way that cements lower wages in place,” said Jocelyn Frye, a senior fellow at think-tank, the Center for American Progress, to The Atlantic.

“This bill tries to eliminate that problem and get employers to think about what an equitable salary is for the job based on the value of the job, not what someone made in the past.”

Although this is a giant step forward in equality efforts for women, the nation as a whole, unfortunately, remains unconcerned.

The Senate continues to eschew the Paycheck Fairness Act. Why? Republicans argued that discrimination based on gender is already illegal, and feel their hands are tied to do anything more.

Nevertheless, cases of discrimination or sexual harassment are not declining.

Bloomberg Businessweek admitted that an unpaid intern that is not legally considered an employee, and thus cannot sue for sexual harassment in the workplace:

“This discrepancy’s not new: Unpaid interns aren’t covered by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and while local laws can protect them, New York’s state and city laws do not.” In many states, it seems the law does not favor female subordinate employees. But, life’s even harder on female bosses.

Only 4.6 percent of public companies have female CEOs.

“The United States, once a world leader in gender equality, now lags behind other similarly wealthy nations in women’s economic participation. In the two decades from 1990 to 2010, our country fell from having the sixth-highest rate of female labor-force participation among 22 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, countries to 17th on the list,” writes Michelle Patterson, Founder and President of The California Women’s Conference and President and CEO of Women Network.

An astounding 46 percent of Russia’s leadership roles are held by women, 24 percent in Europe, and 31 percent in Turkey. These numbers are significantly higher than North America’s mere 18 percent, according to Career Bright’s article on the marginalization of professional women.

On a list of 200 companies with a workforce of over 1,000 employees, a survey by Glassdoor found only 2 companies with female bosses ranked high on employee approval of CEOs. Forbes, who reported on the survey, asks pertinently: “Do We Hate Female Bosses?”

Well, do we?

Some blame confidence. Men are just more confident in leadership roles.

If that’s true, it’s not at all surprising why—given all the legal cards stacked against a women: Don’t look too attractive, don’t look too ugly. Look like a woman, act like a man… How could any woman balance such a heavy double standard?

But, if there’s one thing a woman in the workplace can do to be taken seriously, it’s speak up—more often and more assertively. Like this blog post. Like today at work.

Are you too nice, too modest or way too quiet when it comes to saying and getting what you want in the workplace? Do you assume the blame when things go wrong? And what about when things go right? Do you credit other people, good luck or circumstances for your success?

You’re not alone. In fact, a recent survey found that half of women managers admitted to feelings of self-doubt about their performance and career, but only 31 percent of men reported the same.

Condescending colleagues, gender bias, and stereotypes can make it hard for women to take credit when it’s due, or steer the company ship with confidence. But a woman’s actions, assertiveness and communication skills—or lack thereof—could also be sabotaging her career.

So, take The Center For Competitive Management’s webinar, “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Confident, Assertive Leadership.”

While it will likely take more time to convince lawmakers that effort and work ethic, not aesthetics and salary history, should take priority in the workplace, it doesn’t take much for a woman to ask for promotions, initiate salary negotiations, speak up at meetings, manage subordinates productively and successful manager, and master guiltless self-promotion with gusto.

-WB

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