When I saw that Jennifer Lawrence wrote a piece on the wage gap in Hollywood, I figured it would be just the typical talking points a la Patricia Arquette at the Academy Awards last year.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t. In fact, it was full of insightful commentary about why Lawrence saw that she was making less than her male co-stars. Turns out, she didn’t blame it totally on plain old sexism.
Sexism is certainly a thing in Hollywood (and around the country) but when women place 100% of the blame on that — and ignore the realities of the so-called wage gap — they aren’t helping themselves.
That being said, Jennifer makes a point we ALL need to heed. In short, speak up, be confident, be difficult, haggle till you get what you want.
I have my Dad to thank for instilling this principle in me. When I started my career, I made a typical, low paying, entry level salary for my first job — and I didn’t dare ask for a penny more.
But the first time I got the courage to ask for more, it worked. And I’ve been doing it ever since. I guarantee you, I could be making a LOT less right now had I not began employing the strategy of asking for more and being pro-active from job to job.
It was scary — it was hard, especially the first time I made a BIG ask. I rehearsed it about 10 times and was nearly shaking, my stomach turning to total liquid. I asked for something big — bigger than I thought was possible. Turns out, I didn’t get the number I asked for — but I got a higher number than was originally quoted. And so it goes.
Here’s my “look like I’m negotiating” photo:
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It’s just heard. Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in negotiating powerful deals for themselves. If anything, I’m sure they were commended for being fierce and tactical, while I was busy worrying about coming across as a brat and not getting my fair share.”
Even now, sometimes I question myself — do I deserve to make this salary? Um — would a guy ever ask themselves that question? Maybe, but I’m guessing not. Don’t enforce a wage gap on yourself, ladies!
The wage gap aside (which I believe is mostly a myth, sorry not sorry!), let’s take control of our negotiations and be confident in our work. You can disagree with me on the myth part and still agree that women need to be more pro-active. Don’t be low-balled and don’t forget that salary isn’t the only power you have — think benefits, cost coverage of other things in your contract and flexibility options that are worth money to you.
Take a page from J-Law — and me — and be prepared next time you are negotiating your salary or a raise. You’ll be surprised by how far five minutes of being in an uncomfortable conversation will get you. Trust me — it’s worth it!