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Women and salary negotiations

When I was first on the job market, I knew about this "salary negotiation" thing, but I didn't know what was involved. The most bargaining I had ever done was in local produce markets when traveling, and even in those settings, I tended to take the first price offered. After all, paying twice as much for a tomato isn't that big a deal, right?

But when it comes to negotiating a salary and benefits, it is a big deal, not only because it'll impact what you make at that job, but because your current salary informs future salaries. We all know that starting out with a lower salary leads to a reduced lifetime earning.

I didn't negotiate for my first salary because I thought salary negotiations were for people with a lot of experience or accepting prominent positions. I didn't negotiate because I didn't know how to do it or what was reasonable to ask for. I didn't negotiate because the first offer from my new employer was perfectly acceptable. For these and hundreds of other reasons, people don't negotiate, especially right out of college, but also throughout their lives.

Computer engineer Val Henson thinks this is a problem. She has established the Val Henson Women in Computer Book Scholarship to buy Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide for the first 100 women in computing who email her "about themselves and why they will read this book and share it with their friends."

Henson has also written HOWTO negotiate your salary and benefits – for women, which is just what it sounds like.

I'm not looking for a job, but I've ordered Women Don't Ask for myself, because someday I will be!