Several years ago, I was in the mail room of the university at which I taught; I was looking for work for the new year, because the state budget dried had up money for instructors. I remarked within hearing distance of several faculty members, “I just want to get a job that puts a roof over my head and food on my table."
One of my colleagues looked up from papers she had been stapling, looked me straight in the eye and said, “If that is all you want, then that is all you will get.”
I have never forgotten that. I think about that now when I am setting goals for my medical editing business. However, I am not a business woman in many ways: When I negotiate with clients, I usually err on the side of a) getting the project and b) keeping the client. I have been told by people close to me that perhaps I don’t always do the best job negotiating on my own behalf. It’s true. I am a much stronger advocate for other people.
However, I don’t think I am the only woman who has trouble with negotiations—particularly salary negotiations. I was talking to my friend who writes the blog Cursing Mama about this piece, and she emailed me,
“Negotiating pay? I stink at that.”
I wrote back, “I’m scratching you off the list.”
But she returned with something very compelling: “It isn't that I don't know how to do it – it’s that I lack the cajones to be down and dirty with it. In fact, I think there are a large number of women who undervalue their contributions to the companies they work for. That is one of the factors of the glass ceiling-- our unwillingness or inability to see what we're really worth.
“Still scratching me off your list?”
No, Cursing Mama, I am not. Especially in light of the fact that my friend Arwen, who writes the blog Anthropologists for Corporate America, wrote to me on the same day: “Women still make 67 cents on the dollar, not because corporate America tries to short change us, but because WE DON'T ASK.”
My friend Amy is a photographer in business with her partner, Kim. I actually learned a lot about self-respect and how to negotiate fees when I hired them to take photographs for my medical editing marketing materials. She sent me an excerpt of an email she recently sent to some new, potential clients:
"The good news is that we don't cut corners -- and that results in images that thrill our clients.
The less-than-good-news: both our time-on-task and the fees we need to charge to make projects fiscally worth the time & resources required tend to reflect that no-corner-cutting approach."