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The WAGE Project

Q. I have worked in the same field successfully for 11 years. I have a great background, and am highly regarded at my company, I thought. I recently learned that a male colleague in the same role earns more than I do. He is not more experienced nor does he have better credentials. I don’t think he is a more highly valued employee. I love it here, but now I don’t think I want to stay. I really believed this company was a fair workplace. What’s the advice you have for me and for other women who need to get out of this pay situation?

A. Many women find themselves in the position you are in, and they are at all levels and in all types of organizations. Compensation is fluid and there are always ranges, but the pay and gender issue has not made the progress The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was supposed to address. Today, on average, women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Regardless of job, industry or age, it’s imperative that women are paid based on their skills and not gender, or their lack of knowledge on negotiating compensation.

Former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor, Evelyn Murphy, PhD., is now President of The WAGE Project, Inc., a grassroots activist national organization to end wage discrimination against working women.

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She has been a tireless advocate for ensuring women learn how to maximize their ability to negotiate for pay. I consulted with Dr. Murphy, who noted that in 2005, “I needed to understand the problem so that I could develop methodical steps to successfully change the situation. That is when I wrote Getting Even: Why Women Don’t Get Paid Like Men and What To Do About It, “ by Simon & Schuster. With her commitment to close the gender wage gap, she created a workshop to teach women the skills to establish their market worth, use persuasive language, and develop and implement a strategy regarding maximizing their compensation.

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As she conducted her course across the country, she wasn’t satisfied with volume of women she was reaching and wanted to be able to dramatically impact the number of women she helped to negotiate better earnings. To be able to scale, she offered the program to the American Association of University Women. This program, The WAGE Project, is now offered on 49 campuses across the country.

Any women in a job, or in a job search, needs to master the skills involved in negotiation compensation, which does not start in a meeting with your boss, or the hiring manager. This process begins with knowing your market worth, which can be researched on Salary.com, Glassdoor, and through government publications such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Identify your target compensation and benefits, develop a strategy to achieve that compensation, and practice – lots! It builds confidence.

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Locally, Mayor Martin Walsh announced that the City of Boston will spend the next five years offering The WAGE Project curriculum to 85,000 women employed in Boston.

The wage gap can be frustrating and women, as a talent pool, will solve this problem and many more.

-Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner, Keystone Partners

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