Take Control: How to Negotiate Your Salary

Men are four times more likely to haggle over pay than women.

ByABC News
March 3, 2009, 1:40 PM

April 24, 2007 — -- New research released this week by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation found that just one year out of college, women working full time already earned less than their male colleagues, even when they worked in the same field. And the pay gap widens 10 years after graduation, according to the findings.

Even after controlling for hours, occupation, parenthood and other factors known to affect earnings, the report, titled "Behind the Pay Gap," indicates that one-quarter of the pay gap remains unexplained and is likely due to sex discrimination. To read the full report, visit the American Association of University Women online.

We know that a wage gap may be traced in part to the negotiation process, which is something that each of us has the ability to control.

Men are more than four times more likely than women to negotiate a salary, which typically translates to more money in their pockets. An employer may offer the same starting salary to both a man and a woman for the same position, but more times than not, the man will negotiate and the woman won't.

No employer has an obligation to whisper in the woman's ear, "Hey, you know, you just lost out on more money because you didn't speak up." If she accepts the salary offered, so be it. But the consequences of failing to negotiate a first salary can lead women to lose more than $500,000 by age 60.

It's up to each woman -- no matter what her career stage, industry or position -- to speak up and negotiate for herself.

Here are some tips on how to make sure you're making the most of the negotiation process:

Beyond that, tell yourself that you'll do all the homework necessary to get comfortable with negotiating. However, recognize that some people will never be completely comfortable with this topic. So even in the absence of total comfort, commit to speaking up even if you're shy because frankly you work too hard not to speak up.