How to make it more likely that you’ll earn the same salary as your male co-worker.

April 4th was equal pay day, and it made me think about how frustrating it is that many women still earn less than men for doing the same jobs. Wondering what I could do to make (even a small) an impact on this issue, I thought it might be helpful to share the advice I’ve given and received about compensation.

One fear I have is that by writing this I will be perceived as saying, “Women of the world, the pay gap is your fault. Just start implementing my suggestions and the problem will disappear!” The pay gap is neither our fault nor entirely under our control. That said, I do believe women can do better when they have the right information. Here is what has worked well for me:

1. Find out what people doing your job are worth

Begin attending business events and building a network of people you can talk to directly about compensation. Connect with recruiters in your field on LinkedIn and if they reach out to you agree to have a phone call even if you aren’t looking. Make it your goal in the call to get an understanding of what they are paying for role they are recruiting for.

Note: It’s obviously not a good idea to talk to people within your company about compensation. Focus your data gathering externally. :)

2. Take the time to become comfortable with the idea that you are worth just as much as your male counterparts

3.Even if you are happy in your current role, interview somewhere else at least once a year

4. Find out how valuable you are at your company

The reason it’s important to get signal on this is that if you are not seen as mission critical, it’s important to get to that place before asking for a big raise or promotion. This signal also tells you whether you will be more likely to progress quickly within your current organization, or whether your career is going to grow faster if you move to another company.

5. If you are talking with a recruiter at another company, don’t disclose your salary before hearing what they are willing to offer you

“I prefer to hold off on sharing my current compensation information because I’ve read that that doesn’t benefit the employee in the negotiation process. I can give you a sense if your range is workable for me though, if you have that on hand.”


“Before we get too far down the interview process I wanted to check in on the compensation expectations for this role. I wouldn’t want to waste your time in bringing me on-site if the salary expectations are wildly off.”

In my experience as a hiring manager, women share their prior salaries more than men do, and women negotiate in the interview process less than men do. If you do have to give a number first, ask for a little more than you feel is reasonable. Men on average ask for $7000 more than women do when negotiating. Instead of telling the employer your current salary number, say that your salary expectation would be between X and Y depending on the scope of the role. That frees you up to give a higher number than you currently make. Do not lie and say that your salary is more than it is. Some companies ask for recent pay stubs to confirm what you have told them.

6. If you have children, don’t assume it’s time to take a step down or go part-time

Being an individual contributor isn’t easier or harder than being a manager, it’s just different. In fact, being a manager is often a more flexible way to work because most of what you do is cultural and not a physical deliverable. If you move back to an individual role because you miss being hands on and shipping work directly, then awesome! I encourage that change. If you have a baby and discover after 6 months that you enjoy your time with your baby more than the extra hours at work, going to part-time might make sense. If you love managing though, consider this a new challenge in prioritizing and delegating and wait to see how it goes. In my experience, women who go part-time end up working full-time but just getting paid less. Women who stick with full-time find that they are able to make it all work once the baby comes.

7. Talk to your manager about compensation openly

“I’d like to have a chat about my salary with you the next time we meet. Do you feel you have a clear sense of where I’m at and what the market looks like for my role, or would it be helpful for me to gather some salary data too?”

“It’s been about 11 months since we last had a salary discussion and I wanted to confirm that we’ll be setting up a chat to talk about compensation in the coming weeks. Did you have that planned?”

Other reasonable questions I’ve been asked that I think are good:

“As a female employee, do you notice me being as proactive as men with regard to salary discussions? Is there more I should be doing to ensure I’m paid equally?”

“Does our company (or do you as my manager) have a way of ensuring that women are paid as much as men on this group? Do you check on that periodically?”

It’s unfortunate that women are still being paid less than men, particularly since this problem is relatively easy to solve. The truth is that a few simple federal or state policies could be implemented in in this country which would ensure equal pay for women & minorities. Each company can also easily take responsibility for this problem by working with HR to checking on pay rates across the organization by gender and ethnicity. Hopefully these tactics give you more confidence the next time you are in a compensation discussion, and empower you to vote for government policies that will make an impact on wage equality for all.

Director of Product Design at Facebook, previously Head of Design & Brand at Asana.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store