5 Ways to Eliminate the Effects of the Gender Wage Gap in Your Life

When it comes to women and money, data suggests that women are farther behind on their money journey than their male counterparts when it comes to aspects like income, net worth and even retirement readiness. One of the root causes of this disparity is the gender wage gap.

According to Payscale, a career advice site, women still earn only 79 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. They also report that there is an opportunity gap — meaning there are also structural barriers keeping women from advancing in the workplace.

Though there will need to be a major systemic overhaul to level the playing field for women in the workplace in regards to compensation, there’s a way that women can take the matter into their own hands. Here are some ways to minimize or even eliminate the effects of the gender wage gap in your life.

Ask for a raise

Don’t forgo money that could be due to you. Ask for a raise — especially if you deserve it! Asking for a raise is probably the lowest hanging fruit to reach for when it comes to increasing your income.

A survey by Payscale revealed that only 43% of survey respondents asked for a raise. That means that potentially 57% of employees are leaving money on the table. Don’t let that be you!

When the extra money comes in, make sure you don’t increase your lifestyle. Plan to save and invest that money so that your money can work on your behalf to reduce the effects of the gender wage gap.

Start a Side Hustle

If you can’t squeeze any more income out of your current employer, it might be time to take matters into your own hands. Starting a side hustle could mean extra money that can go towards paying down debt, saving or investing — things that can all ultimately reduce or totally eliminate the effect of the gender wage gap in almost any woman’s life!

Begin investing ASAP

With investing, time equals money, so the earlier you start, the better. Instead of putting your fate totally into the hands of your employer or annual income, let your saved money do the heavy lifting.

The beauty of compound interest is that it works while you are eating, sleeping, working or even having fun. Your money can multiply over time but the key is that you have to invest it in assets that appreciate. Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, and even businesses all qualify as investments that can grow over time and bring in passive income.

Reduce your expenses

A penny saved is a penny earned, right? Look at your discretionary spending and find things you can either reduce or eliminate.

You might explore house hacking, couponing or even working out at home instead of going to the gym. There are many creative ways to save money and reduce your expenses. The more you can cut back on your spending, the more you can save or invest.

Network and help other women

People say that women can be catty and competitive in the workplace. Instead of falling into that stereotype, make an attempt to network with your peers and colleagues. Some of the best opportunities come from people you know — new jobs, contract work, and even business relationships can blossom from networking.

Opportunities can mean more money which can mean more savings and investing. This could lead to the total elimination of the effects of the gender wage in your life. So network away!

Bottom line

Sure, some systemic, structural changes may be in the works and they could very well be the start of a real solution to the gender wage gap. However, while you’re waiting for that to come down the pipeline, do what you can so that you’ve got a head start on your personal journey to earning, saving and investing more. At the end of the day, you might have to take matters into your own hands when it comes to eliminating the effects of the gender wage gap in your life.

Aja McClanahan is a writer that covers personal finance and entrepreneurship. She blogs regularly at www.principlesofincrease.com and works as a freelance writer. Aja has written for numerous web outlets including CreditKarma, CreditCards.com, LendingTree, Discover Bank and more.

Let’s Talk About the Literal Seat at the Table

The last two years I found myself in an interesting position.

I had a seat at the table.

And for most of those two years, I was the only woman with a seat at the table.

I was initially fairly baffled at how I wound up in this position. I was hired as the Performance Director for a recently bought, previously bankrupt company in entertainment and, as I saw it, my job was mostly – make sure the show happens.

Make sure the artists show up and have what they need. Make sure the technicians show up and have what they need. Make sure any changes and last minute decisions during the show are made and executed as needed. Make schedules. Fill out forms. Stick to budgets. Sometimes develop budgets.

Somehow, along the way, the Chairman of the company and I found we got on quite well. And when he started talking with me about the actual business of the company, I was interested and engaged, and frankly shocked when he listened to my occasional opinions on the state of things.

After a few months, I was suddenly invited to all of the big decision making meetings. It wasn’t crazy as I was arguably one of, if not the, highest positions in our Artistic department (until we hired a Creative Director later in the year,) but I sat in on some absolutely insane meetings.

And when we had to hire a new CEO, I was one of the people whose opinion was listened to.

I vividly remember sitting around that table with a bunch of men in their forties, fifties and sixties thinking, “What the actual eff am I doing in this room?”

Here’s the nice thing about a stage management background though – if you’re successful in this field, you know a little about how to fake it until you make it. How to always remain calm even if you currently feel like that cartoon with the funny dog sitting in the room on fire saying, “This is fine.”

I’ve read a lot about how men approach job searches and their business relationships. I pretty much just decided to pretend to be some entitled dude and get on with things.

While I was at the table, I watched these men. And I read the brilliant and sometimes irritating book Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office and I was amazed over the dumb things we do that shoot ourselves in the foot in the workplace. And I was pissed off that these are actions that shoot us in the foot in the workplace, because they shouldn’t be. But they are and I watched them in action.

Here are the biggest things I learned:

No one will just give you a seat at the table. And you can’t really even ask for a seat at the table. You take it. And you don’t apologize.

Now, don’t be some entry level temp trying to sit in on upper management meetings, but here’s a very literal interpretation:

When I enter a meeting, a large part of me wants to make sure everyone has a seat. Are there enough chairs? Do we need anything?

As the Performance Director, that wasn’t my job. There were office assistants who worked at our company. Despite this, we were regularly short chairs at meetings. Now, knowing this, I could perch on a desk corner or stand against the wall.

Or I could walk in there like a department head and sit my butt in a chair – just like every single man in the company does, and let me tell you, the majority of them are not thinking about chairs for anyone else at that moment.

If you walked into a crowded meeting at our company with a slightly larger group – do you want to know who 90% of the people perched on desks and around the walls were? It was the women.

You start each meeting from a position of less authority by positioning yourself in one of those spots and you have to exert more effort to get attention and be heard  during a meeting from there.

So take the actual, literal seat next time. Sit right next to your boss who is one step higher than you. Be prepared, speak up, and show the younger women in the room how it’s done.

Mel blogs at brokeGIRLrich where she chronicles her journey to avoid becoming a starving artist. She works as a touring stage manager most of the year and is studying accounting in her free time. Mel has very strong opinions about side hustles, candles, and roadside attractions.