Students learn $mart $tart to salaries

Nicole Zelniker/Guilfordian

On average, white women get paid 77 cents to the dollar a man makes.

“Over time, women earn much less than men do,” said Kathy Pearre, Women Are Getting Even employee. “You are the people who have to make the case to your employee about your worth.”

Although starting salaries are often different, one of the reasons men earn more overall is negotiation.

“Men tend to negotiate, even in their first job,” said Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Chair Julie Winterich. “Women tend to be happy that they have a job at all.”

On Feb. 18, the women’s, gender and sexuality studies, English, philosophy, religious studies and psychology departments at Guilford College and the American Association of University Women hosted the $mart $tart workshop, a seminar teaching college-age women how to negotiate salary.

“(Negotiation) is not something that is taught to women, so I was excited,” said junior Fiona Lloyd-Muller. “It was a chance to learn how to that.”

Many students graduate desperate for any job.

“Students coming out of college now are just so happy to get a salary,” said Associate Professor of Philosophy Lisa McLeod.

Facilitators showed attendees the WAGE Calculator, which determines the average salary for a specific job in your area.  For example, the average volunteer coordinator in Greensboro makes about $44,000 on average.

“All job seekers tend to underestimate what they have to offer,” said Pearre. “Do your research.”

Presenters also showed students how to balance their budget.

“Getting a salary can be meaningless if we don’t know what our budgets are,” said Winterich.

There were problems students had with the workshop, even though they learned a lot. The workshop lacked diversity, even though African-American and Latina women trail their white counterparts in salaries, 67 and 57 cents to the dollar respectively.

“Women in marginalized racial or ethnic groups will receive even lower salaries than white women,” said senior Khadija Carr. “There wasn’t (much said) about that. That was something necessary. There were a lot of women of color in the room.”

Although presenters enforced the idea that the techniques taught in the workshop apply across the board, there was still a feeling of exclusivity.

“If the model that the American Association of University Women has in mind is a white, able-bodied, straight, cis(gender) woman, that puts her in a more difficult position than a white, cis(gender) man, but still in a different position than other people who might identify as women or gender queer,” said McLeod. “There needs to be some adjustment in the way they’re thinking about stuff.”

This exclusivity was not only an issue during the presentation but remains a challenge in today’s society.

“The research I’ve seen has been on cis(gender) women, (and) it does matter if you’re a person of color,” said Winterich. “We need to know that.”

Overall, students found the workshop more helpful than not.  At least 14 of the 15 participants would recommend this workshop to a friend.  All participants said the workshop taught them how to balance a budget and benchmark salary and benefits.

“The resources that were provided were very helpful,” said junior Zana Hicks.

All partcipants said their confidence had increased over the course of the workshop.

Presenters and Guilford staff shared several tips throughout the workshop, one of which is to do research before coming into an interview.

“You want to know what’s going on within the company,” said Jada Drew ’07, director for Educational Initiatives and Partnerships.

Another tip: relax.

“It’s not going to be taken as offensive,” said Pearre. “Stay positive. It’s just a discussion.”