Last week was ‘equal pay day’ in Belgium, a symbolic day that illustrates how far into the year a woman must work to earn the same amount made by a man in the previous year.
I was appalled that we need such a day but recent studies indicate that the wage gap between men and women is still over 20%. Little progress has been made over the last few years.
Glass ceilings and part-time jobs left aside, why haven’t we been able to close the gap, even after so many years of feminism?
According to Danielle Moens, from the Center of Balanced Leadership who was interviewed by Radio 1 on the subject, we may be partially to blame ourselves. Contrary to men, we lack the guts to ask for a salary increase or a promotion. And although it may not be politically correct, she is right…
Unconsciously, we are raised to be kind and never to ask for anything. As a little girl, we listen to fairy tales about the beautiful princess who waits for her prince to ask her to marry him. Boys on the contrary, are raised to bargain for themselves. They are the ones who invite the girls for a dance, they are the ones who go down on one knee to propose. The concept of winning or losing is part of their daily life.
We unconsciously transmit this attitude into our working life. Although women often excel in negotiating for others, we forget to negotiate for ourselves. We believe that delivering tangible results will automatically allow us to process in our career.
When you look at male colleagues, they prepare and advocate their case.
They start by building an internal network that will sponsor their request. They exhume self-confidence and act as if they deserve the desired promotion or salary increase. They emphasize their added value and actively promote themselves.
So maybe it is time that we move from being a good girl to being more assertive in getting what we think we deserve.
Does this mean that we have to become masculine? Not at all.
However, it is possible to apply some of these masculine techniques to promote ourselves, without thinking that we will automatically be labeled as bitches. Focus on your own unique, feminine qualities and the added value they bring to the business and combine it with the mental preparation to actively promote yourself.
Who knows, becoming more of a ‘bad’ girl will allow us to close the gap. And we can finally leave the sexist concept of ‘equal pay day’ behind us.
I look forward to hearing from you,
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