Starting a new job or bringing up pay raises have many challenges. Many women never negotiate their salaries and of those that do, many don’t feel confident in negotiating. Women in science careers often find themselves being underpaid in comparison to their male colleagues. While their fields are frequently male dominated, this is no reason for women to be paid less or valued less. It can be hard finding your voice and knowing what to say when negotiating feels like a confrontation. For most of us it causes anxiety. Here are some things to know before you start:

  •  Don’t accept the first offer

    Assume that this is a starting point for negotiations. Make sure you do your research on what the average salary is for this position so that you have an idea of the ballpark. In negotiations you may want to counteroffer with something at the top end of the average salary price point and see what they come back to you with. You may end up with that average figure, but there is a possibility of getting more. Women tend to short change themselves when we follow the conventional rules of being humble, not wanting to come across as pushy or demanding. Men frequently just go for it and ask for the big salary without hesitation and often with inflated confidence. When it comes to business and getting paid what you are worth you may want to think of it as bargaining like you would with a street vendor in another country. They start low, you start high and you both hope to work something out in the middle.

  • Your strengths and skillset needs to come into this conversation. Be prepared to sell yourself and let them know why you are worth more than the low-end salary. Additionally, if there are areas that you need to work on or shortcomings, be prepared to address these as well and stand strong with why you still deserve the higher wage.

  •  Know your flexibility beforehand. What areas would you be willing to compromise with? Don’t just think about the negotiation as your salary amount- it should include benefits, vacation or other paid time off, maybe even student loans or childcare expenses. Also find out when you may be eligible for the next pay raise and what that could look like. All of these things can be included in your negotiation process and can help you get the best deal when the employer is limited on how much salary they are budgeted to offer.

  • Not so sure you deserve it? How do you sell yourself when you may be feeling like a fraud? First you may need to do some soul searching and get real with yourself about your career, your work, and your skill set. Somehow in our society it has become the norm to downplay yourself, but that isn’t really helping you. Ask yourself a few questions: Are you good at what you do? Do you belong in this job? Why? Then take a moment to think through your friend or colleague’s lens and consider what they see in you and your work. Imagine the positives and strengths that they would have to say about you. If this makes you uncomfortable then you may have deeper work to do. Check back soon for an article about “How to Not Feel like a Fraud at Work.” Otherwise, use these positive perspectives when you go in to negotiate and your confidence will improve your outcome.

  • Address your anxiety. Depending on the level of anxiety you feel over this, you may need some simple tools to calm your nervous system. Things like deep breathing, yoga, chamomile tea and calming essential oils (like lavender) can help your body calm down to be ready for this discussion with your boss. If you find yourself having trouble calming your nerves or feeling strong enough to bring up the subject of a raise or promotion, you may need more one on one guidance for getting through this. Therapy can be a useful tool and supportive guide for easing these emotions.

For additional information on negotiating, this article has a lot of great ideas and details:

Brought to you by Lindsey Lowrance, Therapist at Exploring Inner Peace. Lindsey is passionate about helping women in science get heard! For more information & resources on navigating challenges at work visit my website or Facebook page:  Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Phone: 720-243-3993

© Lindsey Lowrance 2017- This Tip Sheet MAY be shared or reprinted as long as the information is unedited and the author bio, including contact information is printed along with the tips.