Equal Pay Day: What the Wage Gap Costs You & How to Know Your Worth

The pay gap is real, but it isn’t created equal. While 80 cents on the dollar is the average gap for women, it varies by race and ethnicity. Here is how the gap breaks down, according to Equal Pay Today:

  • 85 cents for Asian women
  • 80 cents for white women
  • 63 cents for black women
  • 59 cents for Native American women
  • 54  cents for Latinas

The gap adds up: The average woman stands to lose $430,480 over a 40-year career, according to Equal Pay Today. For Latinas, the gap could cost more than $1 million. Is this fair?

There are a number of factors contributing to the gendered wage gap, such as:

  • Parenthood: The motherhood penalty is real, with the gap widening for women with children.
  • Age: Research finds that the gendered pay gap also widens by age, with older women being affected more than younger women.
  • Industry: A study by Glassdoor shows the pay gap varies across industry and occupation, with the gap being bigger for industries such as tech. (The good news is the gap is starting to flip in a few industries, with women making slightly more in jobs such as military officer).
  • Bias: There is what PayScale calls “the opportunity gap,” which are the structural barriers women face from advancing to the C-suite.

It’s not our responsibility to close the wage gap—that is the responsibility of companies. However, we can take steps to advocate for ourselves. Here is one woman’s story about how she owned her value and asked for what she is worth.

Robyn Moreno, storyteller, Latinx leader & advocate

Robyn Moreno, storyteller, Latinx leader & advocate

In Her Words: Robyn Moreno; author, Latinx leader & advocate, and ex-president of Latina magazine

Flip the script from “I’m so lucky to be here” to “They’re lucky to have me”

“I’ve negotiated for a raise or bigger fee quite a few times in my life, but one particular instance sticks out in my mind as the most pivotal to my bottom line and overall self-worth.

After having my two daughters, I stepped away from careering for a solid three years. So when I went back to corporate America, it was a strange re-entry. There was a deep-rooted part of me that wanted to negotiate against myself and take the first offer because I was just “grateful” to be “back in the game.”

This “just happy to be here” feeling is something I was very familiar with early in my career when I was a young Latina who had just moved to New York City from Texas. Because I was often the only Latinx person in the room and the first person in my family to go to college and get a “big job,” I used to have that inner voice that would say “Wow! You’re so lucky to be here! Just take what they offer and be quiet!”

Fortunately, as I grew into my career, and myself, I began to realize my worth, and the added value I brought to any job—not only because I was Latina and brought deep cultural knowledge, but also because I am a multi-talent who can work across all media platforms from writing to social media to video and beyond.

So when I was offered a position with a company I really liked and admired post babies, I was disappointed at their initial offer. Even though a solid part of me was like “Just take it and get in the door, then they’ll see what you got,” a deeper part of me said, “No way, lady. This job is gonna take you away from your kids, so it better be damn good!” Plus, I knew what I would bring to the table, job, organization, and company culture was way bigger than what was on the job description sheet.

Women need to remember that they always bring their whole selves to their jobs, so we need to be compensated for the entire skillset we’ll bring: be it hard skills, soft skills, cultural diversity, and your own magic mix that transforms you from an employee to a stakeholder and leader.

This shift from “I’m lucky to be here” to “they’re lucky to have me” was profound. And armed with this confidence I was able to negotiate a salary over 20% that was first offered, plus four weeks paid vacation, and the ability to work from home two days a week.
The negotiations weren’t easy or comfortable, the president was a masterful negotiator, but I was hyper-prepared and I think she enjoyed the exchange. I know she respected me more. Standing up for myself proved to be paramount because I was promoted twice and received two consequent pay raises, all based on that first salary figure.

How I spent my raise: With the money I earned while at that company, my husband and I were able to buy the “dream home” we live in today. I was also able to save a nest egg that later allowed me to quit my job to write the book I’m working on now, plus get to be home with my girls.

Negotiation advice: My advice to any woman out there first up is “don’t ask, don’t get.” I’m going to teach my girls never to take the first offer. If it’s not a monetary raise, ask for more vacation, or the ability to work from home.

Second, don’t just know your worth, believe in your worth. The totality of both our work and life experience is rich and valuable, and you should be compensated for it.

Lastly, negotiate for not just yourself, but for your kids and your grandkids. Generational wealth gaps are real, especially for women and women of color. Fight for yourself today, to set your future generations up for tomorrow.”

Ask for what you’re worth on behalf of women everywhere! Higher pay means more economic power, and that translates into more overall power that can drive equality. What would you do with at least 20% more? Share your thoughts with us @femalequotient.


For more negotiation inspiration, check out:

Part 1: Negotiation is Problem Solving: Here is How to Do It

Part 2: The Negotiation Career Advice No One Tells You

Part 3: Get More of What You Want: How To Tell a Good Deal