NerdScholar Favorites: Colleges Who Teach Women Salary Negotiation Skills

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It’s widely known that today’s young women graduate from college to a wide pay gap. They earn $5,000 less than men right off the bat, according to a report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Another study, recently conducted by NerdScholar, found that the top ten earning jobs are the worst for equal pay. With so much education, how can women garner sharper negotiating skills to help alleviate the huge gap?

Experts say this is due to various factors—from low negotiation skills to simply not working in lucrative industries. Regardless, colleges around the country are taking action on the issue, so we highlighted some of the top colleges that are training women to learn the art of salary negotiation, ahead of Equal Pay Day next week.

Barnard College

Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies has Sara Laschever, author of “Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide,” hold a workshop on “Women, Power, and Negotiation.”  Her workshop explores the internal and external barriers to how women negotiate and discusses how women can maximize their bargaining power. In Laschever’s view, the most important thing a young woman can learn to sharpen her negotiation skills are “to realize that so much of what you earn in life depends on what you earn at the very beginning so the first negotiation is key.” Plus, men are most likely to negotiate so it is something that is expected and totally normal. Barnard holds these kind of workshops throughout the year and has a dedicated professional development and leadership center  to help their young women gain such skills. “Barnard is a leader in trying to communicate to women that there are essential skills [like negotiation] they will need to get ahead in the workplace,” said Sara Laschever on Barnard’s efforts.

Rochester Institute of Technology

Serving women who are going into the fields that are dominated mainly by men, like engineering, the Rochester Institute of Technology places a lot of value in teaching their female students how to negotiate. Manny Contomanolis, Associate Vice President and Director of Career Services at RIT, put it this way, “as women get more into the technology and engineering fields, they are going to be in situations where they will be surrounded by men and for many women that is new. It is important to RIT to be sensitive to this [pay gap].” There are several workshops that teach more than the negotiation process and help young women learn how to advance their career straight out of college.

Wright State University

Working specifically to alleviate the gender pay gap with the help of the AAUW, Wright State University hosts “Smart Start” salary negotiation workshops for women. Young college women learn how to negotiate from mentors—anywhere from CEOs to local leaders—about the negotiation process. They also have constant contact with trained facilitators. One of the most important skills that young women learn, according to the program Director Stephanie Spencer, is how to benchmark. In other words, participants learn to understand what is the appropriate salary for the job they are looking to take compared to similar jobs in the market. The whole point is to help young women understand their worth and leverage negotiation skills.

University of Houston

Because over the course of her lifetime, a woman earns roughly 1 million less than a man, the University of Houston has a workshop to raise awareness on salary negotiation. The Women’s Gender and Sexuality Department is helping their female students learn the skills necessary to negotiate their worth through a series of workshops and career counseling.

Ithaca College

At Ithaca College there is a gender pay gap series to teach young women how to advocate for themselves and their first salary. They have what they call, “TIA talks” similar to TED talks but on the women pay gap. The series is aimed to change attitudes and inspire change on the issue of pay equity among new college graduates. They have talks on multiple topics, from financial literacy to negotiation skills and feminist economics.