Know your worth? 6 ways women underestimate their value

Are you a women who knows her worth?

As women, you do your best by your family to make every cent of your finances work for you.

Know your worth? 6 ways women underestimate their valueWhen budgeting, we can spend a lot of time working out ways we can make a dollar stretch further. But what if we could change to the other side of the equation and work out a way to earn more?

The Great Divide

It is no secret that women, on average, earn less money than men.

The media will often come out with generalisations like the gender wage gap is currently 16%, or that men’s Superannuation is near twice the size of a women’s at retirement.

Whilst these statements are true, they do little to get the real issue the attention it deserves. Because these articles are often met with rebuttals like ‘women do more service based jobs like child care and nursing which are lower paid’ or ‘women take time out of the workforce to raise children’.

Comparing simple averages across the whole workforce allows people to pick holes in the argument. And then conclude that the wage gap is a myth.

But the truth of the matter is, even when women are doing the exact same role as a man, we are often paid less. Working in Finance I have seen this first hand.

This is the inequality we should not be OK with.

Over time I have discovered there are 6 ways women underestimate our value.

We are our own worst enemy

When I was starting out in my career I took on an entry level role as a marketing coordinator. It was a great starting point for me. As I grew in the role my responsibilities and even my title increased but my wage stayed pretty much the same.

It was a job close to home and I was really comfortable there so was happy enough. This was until the marketing team expanded and a new lady started in the team.

She had a lot more career experience than me and recognised almost immediately that I had a lot of talent. One day she asked me why I stayed working there on such a low income.

Light bulb moment.

The truth was I had not thought I was worth more.

Have you ever felt the same?

We are unaware that we are disadvantaged

After the conversation with my colleague, I did some research on the market rate and discovered I was being seriously underpaid.

And I am not alone in this.

A study in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology found that women who are agreeable (or the nice one), are paid less than their coworkers and most of them are unaware of this disadvantage.

We don’t ask for more

Because I had felt this underpaid job needed me, the salary for the work I did was not a large focus. Until it was brought to my attention.

We often assume that if we work hard and do a great job then our boss will notice and they will advocate for a raise for us.

Having now had more than 16 years in the workforce, I can tell you that this is very rarely the case.

When I decided that I was going to ask for more money I put a plan in place.

I came prepared with all of the supporting documents about the market rate, as well as providing specifics on how I had improved the company’s bottom line.

I arrived at a figure that was less than the going market rate but still more than I was earning. An amount that I thought was fair.

You know what happened?

They said no. They would not pay me more.

What they really said was they did not value me.

From that day forward I swore to always ensure I received the market rate for the work I did. My colleague, who is now a friend, gave me the best gift I could have ever asked for.

Confidence in myself.

We don’t feel confident negotiating a raise

With my new found confidence I was quickly able to get a new job that paid 25% more than what I was on. I estimate I cost myself close to six figures in income by staying at the first job for too long. It is one of my biggest financial mistakes.

All increases in my income I have had since then, have been as a result of a specific salary discussion I have arranged. Or when I have negotiated a salary for a new role I have held strong on the amount that I ask for.

The top 3 tips I would give when you are negotiating an increase in salary are:

  • Bring along specific examples of how you have gone over above in your job and how you have helped to increase the bottom line.
  • If it is for negotiating a salary at a new job be sure to highlight what additional skills you have that might not have been explicitly covered in the interview or job description, but are things that a business would highly value.
  • Go into the negotiation with a figure in mind based on your market research. Asking simply for ‘more money’ is not as well received as if you say I would like you to consider a 5% or $5000 increase in my salary based on the following reasons.

Keep it succinct. Your boss is not going to make a decision on the spot, so summarise what you are requesting and ensure you don’t start to ramble.

We leave opportunities on the table

Even if we do speak up and ask for more money, we often leave opportunities on the table.

An interesting statistic I learnt a little while ago was that men apply for a job when they meet 60% of the criteria in the job advert, but women only apply when they meet 100%.

How many opportunities are we passing up because of this?

For my most current role, I didn’t meet some of the criteria but still ended up getting the role. So it really does pay to give yourself a chance to be considered.Do you know your worth?

I was able to explain in the interview how I different have those specific skills but what I had instead that could achieve the same goals.

We under charge and justify it by saying we have balance

After having kids, a lot of us crave more balance in our lives. It is at this point where I see a lot of fabulous mums starting their own business.

This is fantastic as I love seeing women do something that they are passionate about. But what I see a lot of is people discounting their products or trying to compete with the likes of Fiverr in terms of pricing.

I also hear so many stories of women working until all hours packaging orders or finishing off a project. All in the name of starting their own business to have balance.

If you take a step back and do the sums on exactly what your hourly rate works out to be in these cases, it can often be less than minimum wage.

So for me, the cost needs to be enough to make taking away an hour of my time from my kids worthwhile.

Right now I don’t make any money from blogging but I class it as a hobby and it is something I am passionate about. But I do some marketing consulting and copywriting on the side. Because I’ve been working in that industry for a long time my rates are not the cheapest.

A lot of times I am not the one who wins the business.

But that is OK with me, any less than what I charge per hour is not worth losing that time with my kids.

I’m working on introducing new income streams to allow me to work smarter and not harder.

Final thought

At times I find myself slipping into thinking about whether I should drop my prices, or whether I should accept the lower paying job. So when this happens I have this quote as my screensaver on my phone to act a constant reminder.

Think highly of yourself because the world takes you at your own estimate. Click to Tweet

Have you underestimated your worth in the past? What are you doing now to work on knowing your value?

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  1. Definitely an issue. I now approach everything career or money wise with “what would a bloke do?” It’s hard. It’s so hard. And every time I do it, I feel bad. I’m making it difficult for them, I’m being a pain in the bum, I whinge too much. Even so, I believe that taking this approach has led to benefits I wouldn’t have received if I had just accepted what was offered.

  2. Oh my gosh, I couldn’t agree more with this post. Especially “we often assume that if we work hard and do a great job then our boss will notice and they will advocate for a raise for us.” Even my mother who is in a very high level job made this mistake and was missing out on bonuses her colleagues were getting. Good on you for advocating for your real worth both in your job and on side projects. I definitely need to work on this myself.

    1. It’s not easy. I slip up and under-quote on my side projects all the time. But at least I am more conscious of it so can try better next time.

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