REFILE-YOUNG BUCKS-More American women talk about pay, but do not negotiate

Tue Aug 12, 2014 11:17am EDT

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By Lauren Young

NEW YORK Aug 12 (Reuters) - In an era when more women are encouraged to help each other, talking about paychecks is more common. But women are finding out they still earn less than men in the same jobs.

No wonder the majority of women think they are not making enough, according to Glamour Magazine's 2014 Salary Survey, featured in the September issue of the magazine.

Reuters spoke to Glamour Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive about pay trends, negotiating tips and the quest for work-life balance.

Edited excerpts follow.

Q: Women are more hopeful about their earning potential, but more than half of the women you spoke to still think they are not bringing home enough bacon. Why?

A: Women still feel underpaid, and they are right. Women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man does.

Almost two-thirds of the women we surveyed think that their salary is too low. That's still significantly better than when we started this project 25 years ago. Back then, 77 percent of readers felt they weren't earning enough.

It still reveals a general grouchiness among women about their level of pay. Most women feel they could be doing a little better.

Q: Why is pay such a mystery?

A: For decades, talking about your salary was the third rail of conversation. Women would talk about the spiciest details of their sex lives and even politics before they would talk about what they made.

Half of the women we talked to said they've told a colleague how much they make; that's up from 29 percent last year.

The wealth of data available online has a lot to do with it: 71 percent of women know how their pay compares to those in other jobs. It used to be you could only find that out by tapping women on the shoulder and asking about it.

Q: Only 43 percent of women ask for raises, according to Glamour's data. Why aren't women negotiating for better pay?

A: Probably because it is difficult and scary. Plus, people don't know where to get started.

One main reason you should ask for a raise: it works. Of the women who asked for a raise, three-quarters of them got one.

Asking doesn't guarantee that you will get a raise, but not asking guarantees that you won't.

Q: What tips do you have to offer women (and men) who want to make the business case for a bigger salary or raise?

A: Do your research. Are you worth more money? Are you genuinely underpaid? There are many websites, including salary.com and payscale.com, to find out.

In addition, prepare for the salary conversation. Don't show up with just your hat in hand and expect to walk away with $10,000 more than you had at beginning of conversation.

Bring data about what you've done for employer. Don't assume your boss knows your career the way you know your career. You need that memo that shows exactly what you've done, such as how much money you've saved your company or new clients you've brought in.

Remember that your supervisor needs something she can show to her supervisor to justify the increase.

Q: Why is "work-life balance," even if it is elusive at times, so important for women? Do you think the same would be true for their male counterparts?

A: When I graduated from college, it never in a million years would have occurred to me to ask about work-life balance or what a career would mean for having a family.

In our survey, 89 percent of women said flexibility and hours were more important than salary. And more than half of women said they'd take a pay cut.

That's one thing I admire about the generation that's in their 20s: rather than being cynical, they are aware that personal happiness comes first.

Q: A full 40 percent of the women you surveyed say they'd stay at their job even if they won the lottery. What does that say about women and work?

A: I am one of those women. Boy, wouldn't it be nice to find out if this true?

The YOUNG BUCKS column appears monthly and at additional times as warranted. Lauren Young tweets at www.twitter.com/laurenyoung. Read more of her work at blogs.reuters.com/lauren-young (Follow us @ReutersMoney or here Editing by Beth Pinsker and Richard Chang)