A few months ago, my friend Carla called. Carla had built a globally successful business teaching women to earn money on Instagram and was now working on a book with me. Like many women since the 2016 election, we had become obsessed with women’s empowerment. “Do you know women freelancers earn 28% less than male colleagues?” She paused. “Even when we set our own rates, there’s a glass ceiling.”
“I can’t believe—” I started to say but then stopped. We knew women working in corporate US jobs earn 65 to 85 cents to the dollar, so why should it be a shock that women freelancers were also earning a quarter less per project than men? Carla and I were on our way to our first seven-figure year, but getting to this point had not been easy for either of us. Three years ago (and for over a decade before that,) I had struggled to make more than $20K a year as a writer/coach.
“We have to do something about this,” she said.
Psychologists tell us that the first step in solving a problem is to identify the problem. Over the next six weeks, we talked to colleagues, interviewed our clients, and read articles about women and money. We asked both women and men if the problem was external—centuries of suppression and oppression of women—or internal—caused by what the Atlanticmagazine called the Confidence Gap: a phenomenon whereby women underestimate their worth, skill, and contribution by an average of 25%. (Men typically overestimate by 30%.)
Not surprisingly, our research confirmed there are undeniably cultural biases that make some people pay men higher rates for the same job. But the problem is also internal. Because of this conditioning, and centuries of trauma, some women have a harder time believing in their own worth and value, and are more inclined to charge less, earn less, or talk themselves out of pitching larger projects or clients.
Carla and I doubled our efforts. We committed to being part of the solution and sought out women who’d overcome this pay inequality. We looked to the past few years in our own personal growth and business strategy and created roadmaps we could use to help our friends, sisters, and clients close the gap. The good news is that shattering our own glass ceilings is completely possible.
To shatter yours:
- Find out what men in your field make and commit to raising your rates. If this doesn’t feel accessible, give yourself three to six months to make the change using steps 2-3. If you feel resistance or fear, think of a daughter, niece, or friend and the opportunities you want for her. Change begins the moment we decide to create a better future.
- Find a mentor. Carla’s interviews revealed that women who work with a mentor “who sees a bigger vision for them” closed the gap dramatically faster than women who tried to make changes alone.
- Find community. Research shows that our income wealth will reflect the five people with whom we spend the most time. To continue to close the gap, join a meetup, mastermind, social media, or networking group of women who are earning equal or more than industry standard. The women a few steps ahead of those just starting to equal their rates will give women who struggle to charge more the confidence and strength to be bold and receive what they’re worth. A rising tide raises all ships!
The pay gap was created over time by millions of people. We won’t close it working alone, but with enough women and men committing to change, we can eradicate the inequality. I spoke with Marianne Williamson at conference a few years ago and her words then feel all the more important now: you being broke doesn’t serve the world. When you shine your light (make more money- my addition) you give other women permission to do the same. Happy shattering!
Ready to shatter your glass ceiling and earn what you’re worth? Visit: www.saraconnell.com/TLANew
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