Top 15 Salary Negotiating Tips for Women

By Mike Simpson

Going through a salary negotiation is always tricky. However, it can be particularly difficult for women. In some cases, they’re battling against the gender pay gap, making it harder to get equal pay even when they clearly have the skills and expertise to justify it. Plus, talking about money is inherently taboo in American culture, even when it’s for a good reason.

Fortunately, figuring out how to negotiate a salary isn’t as hard as it initially appears. Come with us as we explore the world of salary negotiation and dig into our top 15 salary negotiating tips for women.

What Are Salary Negotiations?

Before you dive into any tips, let’s take a quick second to talk about what salary negotiations are in the first place.

In many ways, a salary negotiation is little more than a conversation. It’s two people – a candidate or employee and a manager – having a discussion about compensation, usually with the goal of finding a happy medium.

If you’re a job candidate, the process typically begins when you receive a job offer. In that, you’ll get an outline of any proposed compensation. In many cases, the pay rate listed isn’t top dollar. That’s why knowing how to negotiate a salary offer is critical, ensuring you can request more the right way.

Why isn’t it top dollar? Well, because companies don’t want to spend more than is genuinely necessary. If they can get a skilled worker for less, they’re thrilled. So, they aren’t going to lead off with the highest amount they’re willing to pay. Instead, they’re going with a lower number they believe you might accept, hoping for the best but leaving them wiggle room if you push back.

If you’re an employee, a salary negotiation may spring up in a few different situations. An annual review is a classic time for discussing pay. The same goes for accepting more responsibilities, saving the company a significant amount of money through cost-saving measures, or similar moments that alter your duties or the company’s profitability.

Now, even if those are normal times to talk about pay, that doesn’t mean your manager is going to bring it up. Remember, companies aren’t looking to spend more than they have to, so managers might avoid talking about raises unless the employee brings it up.

In either case, the go-to strategy is the same. You want to use evidence-based approaches to support your request. That way, data is on your side. What kind of data? We’ll dig into that in the tips below.

Salary Negotiation Landscape for Women in 2022

Many women wonder if now is the right time to engage in a salary negotiation. Fortunately, you can get an idea by looking at the current salary negotiation landscape.

First, it’s critical to take a look at the gender pay gap. It’s a figure that shows the disparity in men’s and women’s wages. While it’s technically only part of the picture, it’s a helpful starting point.

According to one study on the gender pay gap, as of 2021, women earned 82 cents for every dollar made by a man. Another gender pay gap analysis showed a comparable figure for 2020 – with women making 84 percent of what men earn – but also noted that the gender pay gap is holding steady.

Even with that, there are signs of potential progress toward genuinely equal pay. Among workers between the ages of 25 and 34, women earn 93 cents for every dollar earned by men in that age group. While that still represents a gap, it’s smaller than it was during the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. However, the gap is larger than it was in approximately 2010.

Another point that’s worth exploring is the impact of the Great Resignation and the current state of the labor force. Overall, workforce participation is declining, hitting the lowest point since the 1970s in 2021. There might also be a skill gap in play, though that point is hotly debated.

Finally, the economy is also recovering, potentially at a faster rate than initially expected. Inflation also hit a near-40 year high, which isn’t ideal. However, it could give some professionals more justification for requesting a pay pump, not less.

In reality, all of the factors indicate that conducting a salary negotiation now is probably a decent idea. If you’re highly skilled and a strong performer, you can potentially take advantage of the employee-driven market, allowing you to up your pay rate with greater ease.

Top 15 Salary Negotiation Tips for Women

Here is a look at our top 15 salary negotiation tips for women.

1. Know Whether a Job Is Fixed-Rate

Before you prepare for a salary negotiation, it’s critical to determine whether a job is fixed-rate. There are positions where everyone working in a role gets the exact same pay, either to the dollar or within a range. With the latter, where you fall in a range might depend on a mathematical formula and nothing else.

Why does it matter if a job is fixed rate? Because negotiating a salary in these roles might not be an option. If it’s pre-set to the dollar, it doesn’t matter what you bring up in the conversation; the pay is what it is.

However, if there’s a range, you may have some wiggle room. You’ll need to know what the pay window is and how placement in it’s determined. If merit plays a role, then having the conversation could be wise.

Government and unions jobs almost always come with a fixed rate. The same goes for prevailing wage jobs, as well as hourly positions, particularly in industries like retail, hospitality, and customer service.

In some cases, large corporations have formal salary structures, too. Why? Because it simplifies things, making it easier for managing pay for hundreds or thousands of employees.

2. Research Your Worth

If you’re trying to figure out how to negotiate a salary, the most important step you can take is researching your worth. This is a two-fold process. Along with analyzing your experience, skills, and achievements to estimate your value, you need to look at salary averages for similar roles in your area.

The goal is to figure out how much someone like you in a job like the one you’re targeting usually earns. That way, you can use that information to counter a lowball offer if you get one.

3. Bring Supporting Documents

When you’re negotiating a salary, proof is your friend. By having documentation showing the points you researched in step two and more paperwork highlighting your achievements, it’s harder to counter your position. Plus, it lets you have critical figures in front of you in writing, making it less likely that you’ll forget a crucial detail during the discussion.

MIKE'S TIP: When you’re gathering documents, double (or triple… or quadruple) up. For example, if the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale, Glassdoor, and all show pay ranges in a similar window, bring printouts of them all. That way, it’s harder for a manager to dispute your position.

4. Avoid Discussing Your Last Salary

While many areas are barring employers from asking about salary histories, it’s still legal in many areas. Knowing what to do if you’re asked for your salary history is essential. That way, you can avoid sharing information that might work against you.

Some companies try to base their pay offerings on a person’s past salary instead of just using a candidate’s value as a guide. That’s why the gender pay gap is so pervasive and why it can actually get worse as you move further through your career. Every job is based on the low figure associated with the one before it, allowing the gap to widen.

By having a strategy to handle the situation, you can reduce the odds that past salaries influence new offers. Instead, the offers end up based on merit and other points, making it easier to get a competitive rate.

5. Approach a Lowball Offer the Right Way

If you received a lowball offer that you know is far below industry standards based on your research, it’s okay to express general disapproval. That can make it clear that you aren’t interested in using that number as a starting point for negotiations, making it easier to start fresh.

For example, say something along the lines of, “While I appreciate the offer, we are miles apart when it comes to the salary.” That shows the first figure isn’t within your negotiation zone, allowing you to move past it faster. Then, you can show evidence supporting a figure within your range, positioning that number as the new starting point for further discussions.

6. Being Vague at First Is Okay

Talking about money is, in a word, uncomfortable. However, if that’s why you’re struggling to launch a salary negotiation, you don’t have to start by throwing out numbers or evidence. Instead, you can begin with a simple question: Is there any flexibility when it comes to the salary?

That question lets the manager know you’re prepared to enter a salary negotiation in a slightly indirect way. Since it doesn’t involve an immediate counter, it may feel like a less intimidating way to get the ball rolling.

Just be aware that the manager might take things in a few directions. In some cases, they’ll present a better offer without you having to do anything else. In others, they’ll respond with a “yes” and ask what you had in mind, so you’ll need to move forward with your request and supporting evidence.

However, they could also say “no.” If that happens, you’ll have to decide if the initial offer is enough or if it’s better to walk away.

7. Have the Right Number to Present

During a negotiation, you may need to throw out a number. Use your research as a guide. Choose a figure that’s reasonable and slightly above what you’d be happy with. That way, if the manager tries to bring the number down, you can meet at a point that aligns with what you’re after.

8. Explain How the Higher Amount Benefits Everyone

In some cases, women have to justify their salary requests more than men. Make sure you can highlight how giving you more pay works in the company’s favor.

Discuss how it lets you bring value to the team, helps the company achieve its goals, ensures other costs go down, or anything else that offsets the larger equation. That way, the manager can see why it’s a good idea for them to say “yes,” making it easier for them to agree.

9. Sprinkle “We” and “Us” into the Conversation

When you talk to the manager about pay, don’t be afraid to add “we” and “us” to the conversation. By discussing how the value you bring lets “us” accomplish a goal or how “we” will be able to get various things done creates a sense of comradery between you and the manager. It lets them see how they personally gain, which could make them more open to a higher figure.

10. Talk to Your Colleagues

One reason why the pay gap exists is that people were told that discussing salaries is somehow inappropriate. The thing is, it isn’t. At least, not inherently.

If you’re worried that you’re underpaid at your company, talk to colleagues working in the same role with similar credentials that you trust. Let them know you’re concerned about wage fairness and see if they’ll speak with you about their compensation. Who knows, they may say “yes” and, if so, you could get the evidence you need to ask for a raise.

11. Have the Right Attitude

When you’re negotiating salary, you need to keep things positive. Don’t outline what you want as a demand. Instead, go through any evidence you’ve gathered, explaining how it supports your request.

By being evidence-focused and aren’t tossing out ultimatums, you’re ensuring the manager doesn’t end up defensive. That leads to a more productive conversation.

12. Negotiate Face-to-Face

Negotiating a salary in writing might seem like the better choice. After all, you can carefully craft your message, right?

Well, the thing is, misunderstandings are more likely with written than verbal communication. An email lacks emotion, inflection, facial cues, and body language. That what’s being shared could be misinterpreted.

While it’s harder, you’re better off negotiating face-to-face. That way, the odds of a misunderstanding go down.

13. Use a Mock Salary Negotiation as Practice

As they say, practice makes perfect. So, if you’re uncomfortable with salary negotiations, enlist a trusted colleague, friend, or family member to help. Go through the process several times, asking them to adopt different mindsets about your request every time. That way, you can explore a variety of paths you might encounter, making them easier to walk later.

14. Don’t Make Assumptions

If you’re getting ready to negotiate a job offer or ask for a raise at work, don’t assume that the situation will be harder or easier based on the manager’s gender. If you do, it may alter your mentality, and that isn’t always ideal.

A manager’s gender doesn’t automatically determine how they’ll approach the conversation, so it’s best to use the same strategy regardless of who’s involved. That way, you’re ready for how the conversation unfolds.

15. Know That You Can Walk Away

If you’re in the middle of a salary negotiation and it’s clear that you won’t get a fair offer or reasonable raise, leaving is an option. You can decline to take a new job or use the lack of a raise as motivation to find a new role that pays fairly.

It’s okay to go after a position where what you bring to the table is appreciated. So, never feel like you’re stuck, because you’re not.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, all of the tips above should help you figure out how to negotiate a salary the right way. Use them to prepare for your next salary negotiation. That way, issues like the gender pay gap won’t stand in your way, ensuring you can determine the best strategy for how to negotiate a salary offer to get fair and equal pay.

About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.