You are worth it

Image by Alev Takil

Image by Alev Takil


Why don’t women tend to negotiate at the time an offer is extended to them?

I spent months looking for a new job, weeks interviewing, and days pouring over two offers that I had in front of me. I liked the environment of one company, but salary of the other. It was the third time in my life that I had two offers at the same time, and I engaged in negotiations before accepting an offer every time I had two offers to consider. But many women don’t engage in negotiations at that stage. In fact, I am not sure I would have either had I not had 2 offers to pick from. It wasn’t until I had experience as a hiring manager that I understood how critical it is to negotiate on your own behalf at the time when the offer is made. But why don’t women tend to negotiate at the time an offer is extended to them? Why didn’t I negotiate when I wanted to, all the previous times I had an offer on the table?

Image by Brendan Church

Image by Brendan Church

If you don’t take anything out of this blog but one thing, please remember this: you have the most leverage at the time the offer is extended to you. The company wants YOU, they think YOU are the best candidate and it’s almost NEVER that the company is coming at you with their top number as the first offer. So, what is different between men and women that holds females back from negotiating on their own behalf when they are considering an offer? Curiosity has led me to discover some interesting dynamic that was published in a research paper by Lisa Barron. The findings resonated with me not only because I could relate due to my own experience, but because I have heard the undertone of the reasons through many interviews and casual conversations with my female friends and colleagues.

Turns out there are three factors that play on whether women engage in negotiations, and I would argue that these three factors are relevant not only when the offers are being considered, but also when one is considering requesting a promotion.

The first factor:


And what do you mean by worth, you might ask. Worth addresses the question of “How much am I worth?”

Did you know that there is direct relationship between what one perceives they are worth and their salary?

Studies show that people pick one of two paths while assessing our worth:

path 1

I know exactly what I am worth, and it’s my responsibility to ensure the company pays me that much

path 2

I don’t have a strong sense of what I’m worth, and I will let the company determine a fair salary

Brace for some shocking statistics!

When men and women were asked whether they knew their worth or were unsure of it, the response was the following*:

Know my worth


85% men

15% women


unsure my worth


17% men

83% women


When I first saw the numbers, I thought: “OK, the numbers don’t look good, but what to do about it? What exactly is worth and how does one measure it?” On my journey to figure out some answers, I have come upon a few discoveries.

First, when you are trying to evaluate your worth, consider these three aspects: talent, skill set, value. After all, that’s exactly what potential employees are being interviewed for and that’s what hiring managers are trying to assess during the interview process.

It might feel unnatural for women to think in those terms though, I know I have felt like I was being greedy and selfish when I was looking at what value I would bring to the company, what talent and skills I would utilize while on the job and then equate that to dollars. It didn’t feel comfortable going through that exercise. I had a mental battleground in my head. What swayed me to the side of starting to equate value, talent, and skills to dollars was the fact that I didn’t want to constantly think about money. I didn’t want to wonder if I was being paid fairly. I wanted to take matters into my own hand and make sure that I was being paid what I was worth.

Women are taught from early ages to be care-takers and worry about others, ensure communal well-being and peace. Top that with the fact that the idea of worth is rather ambiguous and forces you to equate personal attributes to dollars, and that leaves female young adults and professionals at a loss at how to access their worth.

When you are about to engage in negotiations, don’t focus on asking for more money, focus on getting what you are worth!

While determining our worth is hard, ambiguous, and uncomfortable, we are in control of it and we are more than capable to handle this task.

Most men look towards the market to true up their gauge on assigning dollar value to their worth. Most women look towards home to see their worth. We must change the dynamic, it must start with us and now. The road to change is slow and treacherous; if there is any hope for future generation to be playing on the leveled field, then we must take on the responsibility of starting to lay down the path where not many have travelled. A barely visible path now that someday our daughters and granddaughters will pave into a fast moving freeway.

*Source: "Gender differences in negotiator’s beliefs about Requests for Higher Salary" by Lisa A Barron