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Hot Topic on Reddit: XX Chromosome Equals Lower Pay

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By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

How’s this for an opening line: “I work for a large multinational tech company, I regularly hire woman for 65% to 75% of what males make. I am sick of it, here is why it happens, and how you can avoid it.”

The hot topic on Reddit this week:

Today I finished interviewing my third new hire this month, two of which are women. They both are getting paid substantially less than the man I hired earlier this month, and to be honest I am getting tired of that. I don’t set the wages, I just handle negotiations (HR has to approve every offer I make).

Our process, despite the pay gap, is identical for men and women. We start with phone interviews, and move into a personal and technical interview. Once a candidate passes both of those, we start salary negotiations. This is where the women seem to come in last.

The reason they don’t keep up, from where I sit, is simple. Often, a woman will enter the salary negotiation phase and I’ll tell them a number will be sent to them in a couple days. Usually we start around $45k for an entry level position. 50% to 60% of the women I interview simply take this offer. It’s insane, I already know I can get authorization for more if you simply refuse. Inversely, almost 90% of the men I interview immediately ask for more upon getting the offer.
The next major mistake happens with how they ask for more.

In general, the women I have negotiated with will say 45k is not enough and they need more, but not give a number. I will then usually give a nominal bump to 48k or 50k. Company policy wont let me bump more than 5k over the initial offer unless they specifically request more. On the other hand, men more frequently will come back with a number along the lines of 65k to 75k, and I will be forced to negotiate down from there. After this phase, almost all women will take the offer or move on to somewhere else, not knowing they could have gotten more if they asked.

At the end, most of the women I hire make between 45k and 50k, whereas the men make between 60k and 70k. Even more crazy, they ask for raises far less often, so the disparity only grows.

I don’t know if this is at all helpful, I feel most of it is common sense, but I see it all the time. How can I help?

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for more, it’s not insulting or in any way going to affect your ability to be hired (we can always say no)
  • When you ask for more, give a number! If you let me pick, I will continue to lowball it.
    Ask for raises, confident people get them more often than high performers in a heavy bureaucracy.
  • On a small sidenote, the one person who got the most out of us was a highly aggressive, very smart, very confident woman. She nearly doubled the initial offer, which due to how she marketed herself was already pretty high.

The hiring manager ends the Reddit post with “happy hunting, and please, next time we meet, negotiate with me!”

Here are some of the top-ranked comments to the post:

“I couldn’t agree with this more. I don’t know whether that’s actually how women behave in hiring situations, as I don’t hire anybody in my role. I do know, however, that being aggressive in salary negotiations has paid off for me. Always start high. You might be surprised at what you can get.”
- ryanismean

“I did this last job. They asked me for a quote, I came up with a number I thought was at the absolute high end of what I could maybe theoretically get, well above what I thought was on the table. They accepted immediately. Guess I’m low-balling myself. I’ll have to ask for a raise once I’m done with my current project :D”
- ZorbaTHut

“If you have a history of low-balling yourself, the way I suggest people give a range is [Max you think you can get] through [that plus 10%]. I don’t think I have seen that many people undershoot by more than 10%… Also keep in mind companies like nice round monthly numbers. So if you are negotiating for more money, asking for 12k more might actually be easier than 10k more. (I know it’s crazy, but honest to god it’s true, especially in huge companies with aging accounting software)”
- techmanager12345

“Great advice! I was one of those who used to accept the first offer they made. Once it was double my current salary and I was totally astonished! After being in a hiring role, I learned this lesson. Now if I can just get my teenager to learn it before he gets into the workforce…”
- cathline

Spread the word!

  • L

    Not really this week. 5 months ago. But thanks (from a TwoX Redditor) for noticing our thread!

    And a warning to non-redditors: TwoX is a relatively positive space for these kinds of discussions, but watch out for women-in-tech threads (and other threads about women and science, or just women in general) because the climate in those can tend toward misogynistic.

  • http://www.twitter.com/thisgirlangie Angie

    We knew it was a hot topic this week when half a dozen people emailed us the link, and a colleague sent it to me explaining that he found the Reddit post this week in a Facebook group full of Nigerian men. So go figure.. it is a hot topic this week, again.

    I’m thankful it’s getting an encore! Good stuff.

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