Monday, June 13, 2011

'They Don't Negotiate': Why Young Women College Graduates Are Still Paid Less Than Men

Casey Ferguson was sitting in her car on Jan. 19 when she finally got the call she'd waited months to receive.

The voice of Jon Newman, the founder of the Hodges Partnership, a strategic communications firm in Richmond, Va., where she had recently interviewed, was on the line.

He was calling to offer her an entry-level position.
Ferguson, a 22-year-old who graduated in December with a bachelor's degree in communications from East Carolina University, began her job search in the summer of 2009, when she worked as a summer intern at Hodges. After the internship was over, she began a protracted courting ritual: Staying in touch with former colleagues through social networks and meeting up with ex-coworkers for lunch or coffee. She even brought homemade cookies by the office on more than one occasion.

But when she heard the word "offer," all of the lessons that had been drilled into her during college career fairs -- namely, that she could and absolutely should negotiate -- went flying out the window.
Even before Newman could finish explaining the full terms, Ferguson interrupted him to say that she accepted.

"After I said 'yes,' my boss immediately started laughing. He told me my first task was to enroll in Negotiating 101," recalls Ferguson.

It wasn't that she didn’t care about the money. The daughter of an elementary school teacher and a South Carolina cable company employee, Ferguson put herself through college by working a series of part-time jobs and taking out student loans, on which she still owes more than $15,000.

"Thinking of all my friends who have graduated and still don't have jobs, why would I get greedy?” she says. "It's just not in my nature to nickel and dime."

Ferguson is hardly alone in her discomfort with playing hardball -- especially among other women, and especially during a recession.

Even during the most robust of economic times, women are less inclined to negotiate. In fact, according to Sara Laschever, co-author of "Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide," 20 percent of women say they never negotiate at all. And in the current recession, which has made many job seekers feel grateful for any work they can find, even a part-time toehold can feel like a victory.

Based on several interviews with women under the age of 30, nearly all reported feeling almost guilty about asking for more money than was initially being offered.

The problem with this reluctance to ask for more is that women are still paid less than men. And as new research released last month reveals, young women often get the raw end of the deal.

A May study by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University polled nearly 600 young men and women that graduated from college between 2006 and 2010. The authors found that young men are not only out-earning young women, they’re doing so by an average of more than $5,000 per year. Male participants reported first year job earnings averaging $33,150, while young women earned about $28,000.

Another report released in May, this one by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, indicated that new female college graduates are earning 17 percent less than their male counterparts.

More Info and Complete Huffington Post Article 

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