Career Advice

11 Tips for Women to Negotiate a Higher Salary

Ladies, we’re all familiar with the gender pay gap. We earn much less than a man with the same position, skills, and experience. The U.S. Government Accountability Office says that “Women make up more than 40% of the overall workforce and earn an estimated 82 cents for every dollar earned by men.”

Sadly, the estimate is even lower for women of color (only around 63-75 cents for every dollar). This has been going on since forever. And is still going on today…

The great news is that a whopping 73% of employers say that they are expecting salary negotiation. If we want equal pay rights, we can negotiate for it. 

However, only a few women negotiate a first offer or current salary. Don’t let that stop you. I’m going to help women earn their rights by giving you 11 tips for women to negotiate a higher salary. So let’s go!

Read More: How to Counter a Low Salary Offer (With Email Samples)

Reasons Why Women Avoid Salary Negotiation 

Before I get to the tips, let’s see why women often avoid negotiation. Try to identify if you have any of these feelings, too. 

Taken from a Glassdoor survey, here are the main reasons why women avoid salary negotiation:

Percentage of women who feel this way: 
They’re afraid of being denied 34%
They’re afraid of getting fired27%
They don’t know how much to ask for25%
They don’t know how to negotiate 25%
They’re afraid it will impact their career growth22%
They’re afraid it will impact their relationship with coworkers12%

Besides that, let’s look at other reasons why you might be afraid to negotiate a salary or ask for a raise…

Gender bias

Even if it’s not as recognizable, the US workplace has a gender bias that’s still intact today. Ash Serrano, the Executive Visibility at TSR Consulting Services, Inc., says:

Despite significant progress towards gender equality in the workplace, studies have shown that women are still viewed differently than men regarding assertiveness and competency. As a result, women may need more pushback or be perceived as less competent when advocating for themselves in salary negotiations.

If you feel this bias present in your current job, you may just want to stay quiet and settle with your smaller salary. However, don’t let the men power over you. You should go for the salary you deserve. 

Lack of confidence

This is another prominent reason why women don’t negotiate salaries. From the table above, we see that they’re afraid of many things. 

They don’t want to upset their coworkers. They don’t want to experience denial for higher pay. They fear that if they ask for a raise, they’ll get fired. They’re afraid that negotiating salary will make the employer withhold career advancement opportunities. 

OK, those fears might be legit. However, you will never know if it’s true if you don’t try. Don’t be afraid to ask. If your fears turn out to be true, then is that a work environment you want to stay in?

Lack of information 

Again, we saw from the table above that 25% of professional women avoid negotiation due to not knowing much about it. More specifically, they don’t know how much higher to make the job offer or how to negotiate in the first place. 

In turn, they won’t have a base average salary to work with. They won’t know if what they’re asking for is too high or too low for their position. So instead, they avoid asking for a higher salary. 

Read More: Know When NOT to Negotiate Salary to Avoid Job Offer Rescind 

Fear of backlash

Unfortunately, women in the workplace are easily accused of something. When it comes to salary negotiation, it’s usually that they’re causing tension or being problematic. Moreover, if they don’t know how to negotiate properly, the manager or HR representative might label them as too demanding or pushy. 

Of course, we don’t want these types of false accusations. So what’s the best way to avoid backlash? Well, you don’t bother to get the salary you deserve. 

Racial barriers

If you’re a woman of color, it’s understandable why you don’t want to try being the negotiator. Racism is still at a high in the workplace today. The U.S. News and World Report survey showed that 42% of black workers, 26% of Asian workers, and 21% of Hispanic workers are unfairly treated at work

Since there’s a risk that your counteroffer will be rejected due to racism (whether consciously or unconsciously), you don’t try to close the gender pay gap. Plus, if it’s hard for white women, imagine how it will be for black, Asian, Hispanic, and native women. 

Motherhood penalty 

If you’re a working mom, you might face the motherhood penalty. What’s that, you ask?

It refers to the negative impact that motherhood can have on a woman’s career and earning potential. This includes their wage gap, career progression, workplace discrimination, and work-life balance struggles.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt, a career advice writer and editor for big websites like Payscale, says, “The data show that women pay a penalty for marrying and having children—even when they never prioritize family over work.”

If a mom goes through all this, she might not want to negotiate for a raise – even though an appropriate salary raise will help her a lot. 


Ageism is when you’re prejudiced, discriminated against, or stereotyped because of your age. For a younger woman, they might be made to feel that their abilities and experience are undermined. So much so that they don’t test the waters and negotiate higher. 

As for older women, the stereotyping lies in that they can’t keep up with the younger generation. They’re not tech-savvy, they’re not willing to learn new skills, etc… Because this is a common stereotype, these older ladies don’t want to negotiate for higher as they feel it will lead them nowhere. 


Women with disabilities may have greater difficulty negotiating their salaries because of physical or logical barriers. Maybe you’ll have a hard time attending a face-to-face interview or meeting. Or, you may feel like, since your employer already spends more to accommodate you, it’s asking too much to get a better salary. 

11 Tips for Women to Successfully Negotiate Salary and Overcome Their Fears

If you avoid negotiation (for whatever reason), here are 11 tips for women to negotiate a higher salary, overcome their fears, and get better results:

  1. Know that it’s acceptable to ask
  2. Research, research, research
  3. Know your value
  4. Think before you ask 
  5. Practice makes perfect
  6. Get the hiring manager on your side
  7. Be confident
  8. Be firm
  9. Consider the whole compensation package 
  10. Keep it positive
  11. Know that you don’t have to take the job 

1. Know that it’s acceptable to ask

Usually, fears are just that – fears. You’re aware that women in the workplace are not treated fairly, so you imagine all these negative scenarios. 

However, that’s not always the case. A 2023 survey conducted by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org saw 60% of companies increasing their financial and staffing investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion. If you’re lucky, the company won’t mind at all if you negotiate your salary. 

Even if not, then you should know that there’s nothing wrong with asking for higher pay. You’re not being demanding, problematic, or whatever else people say. This is especially true if your talent and performance add value to the company. 

So don’t go shying away because of what people say. You shouldn’t be uncomfortable about it, too. If men can negotiate a higher salary, so can you.

Career Expert Alison Doyle gives us an example of a woman who knew that it was acceptable to ask:

A candidate was offered a terrific compensation package by her dream employer. Even though she would have taken the first offer, she inquired as to whether there was any salary flexibility. The company offered her more base pay and a bonus. If she hadn’t asked, she wouldn’t have known there was room to make a better deal.

2. Research, research, research

Remember I said that one reason why women avoid negotiation is because they lack information? Well, one of the great tips for women to negotiate a higher salary is to do their research. 

For this, look up your job title and industry and see the average salary or salary range for both. You should also research the company and understand how they offer compensation packages. All this will give you a good idea of what’s a fair and reasonable salary expectation. 

To help you out, here is a list of tools that you can use to research salary data:

I will say, though, that you shouldn’t rely too much on these websites’ salary calculators. The ranges they give are just estimates. To get a clearer picture, combine your research with salary discussions with your peers or people you know who work in the industry (better if it’s with men). 

And don’t worry. Ash Serrano says:

In the United States, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 protects employees’ rights to discuss their wages and working conditions with each other, even if their employer prohibits it. Knowing this can help ensure that they are being paid fairly and can advocate for themselves in salary negotiations.

3. Know your value

Another negotiation tip for women is to know your value. This will help you explain to HR why you deserve that raise. 

To know your worth, you can list down your skills, experience, and accomplishments. You should also put down why you’re a valuable asset. Let’s say it’s because you helped your previous company boost sales, and you can do the same for the company you’re applying for. 

Moreover, you can highlight soft skills that companies prioritize. This includes communication, teamwork, flexibility, critical thinking, time management, etc…

Come up with an arsenal of values, skills, and qualities so that the employer will die to have you on the team, and thus won’t be able to refuse your salary negotiation. This is one of the great negotiation tactics that has landed both women and men higher salary agreements. 

4. Think before you ask 

So you already have a salary range to ask for and good reasons why you deserve it, you can now bring your negotiation to the table. Hold up!

Are you sure that a salary increase is your main focus? Does that fit into your bigger work aspirations? Alexandra Mislin, an Associate Professor of Management at American University, gives us something to think about:

Negotiating professional development opportunities and your role at work may do more to help close the pay gap than getting paid more than you are currently earning. So, take stock of your goals and make sure you are focusing on negotiating about the right issues.

Don’t negotiate salary for the sake of negotiating salary. Instead, see if you would rather fight for something more important to you, such as career development opportunities. 

However, I’m not saying that you can’t do both. But if you have to sacrifice one thing, you need to choose what it will be. And it’s better to decide now than when you’re put on the spot. 

5. Practice makes perfect

Yes, negotiating salary can be very nerve-wracking. Especially with a cloud over your head about gender bias, racial barriers, and all that. 

One problem with being nervous is that you might appear pushy or demanding. For example, your nervousness might cause you to speak quickly and interrupt the HR’s questions. This unintentionally gives the impression that you’re eager to take control of the conversation. 

So how do you wipe away the nerves? Well, as the old cliché goes “practice makes perfect”. Here are some tips to help you practice:

  • Look up public speaking tips and tactics and practice them. This includes meditation, breathing techniques, positive affirmations, etc… If you master this, you can control your body’s reaction to nerves. 
  • Do mock negotiations. Grab a friend, family member, or mentor to play the HR representative. Do a role-play of different scenarios, questions, and responses. This helps you anticipate and prepare for various situations. 
  • Get rid of those negative thoughts. Nervousness and self-doubt are most prominent when you’re already thinking that your negotiation will fail. You might be thinking, “Because of gender bias, why will HR agree to give me a higher salary?” Get rid of all that. Instead, believe that your negotiation will succeed. 
  • Ask for feedback. You’ll never know if you’ve perfected the art of hiding your nerves. This is why it’s a good idea to ask for feedback from someone, maybe the person who did the mock trial with you. Ask them if your negotiation skills and performance are convincing, as well as what areas you should work on. 

6. Get the hiring manager on your side

You want someone from the business to be on your side. Well, one of the first people you meet is the hiring manager. Here’s what our expert Alison Doyle says:

The hiring manager can be your advocate for a better offer. If he or she really wants to hire you, they can push for human resources or management to get you more.

How do you get the hiring manager on your side? Yes, you should prove that you’re the best candidate. But probably more importantly, you should make them like you. This means you have to be friendly, respectful, professional, interested, and authentic. 

It’s also a good idea to showcase a few soft skills, such as great talker, a great listener, thoughtful, kind, and a problem solver. This will not only make the hiring manager like you more, but it will also highlight the skills that you’ll be using to boost your negotiation. 

However, one word of warning. Don’t fall into the likability trap. This is a common scenario in the workplace for women, where they feel they need to be warm, charming, agreeable, and approachable all the time. If they’re not, they’re seen as aggressive, bossy, etc… 

No, you should make people like you, but you should also follow my next two tips…

7. Be confident

OK, so you finally meet up with HR to talk about your salary negotiation. For a better chance to get what you’re asking for, you need to be confident. This is one of the reasons why it’s essential to know your worth. 

When you know what you can offer, you’ll know that you deserve the pay you’re asking for. In turn, that will give you the confidence you need. 

However, your confidence shouldn’t only be your mindset. You must radiate confidence in your aura, too. For this, you can do the following:

  • Dress professionally (it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed)
  • Make your handshake firm
  • Keep eye contact
  • Have good posture with your shoulders back and head held high
  • Don’t shake or fidget (you already practiced this)
  • Speak clearly

This will make you look and feel confident in yourself to land a positive negotiation outcome. When your inward and outward person is confident, the HR won’t see you as a weak woman they can take advantage of. 

8. Be firm

Besides being confident, you should also stand your ground. You need to challenge gender biases and assert your worth in the workplace. 

OK, it’s important to consider the company’s perspective. I mean, they may genuinely have budget constraints or compensation structures that they can’t go over. It’s not always about women’s discrimination in the workplace. 

Because of that, you have to reach a salary agreement that suits both parties. Keyword – both parties. Don’t back down and accept something you’re not happy with. 

So when I say be firm or assertive, I don’t mean force the issue that you get what you’re asking for, even if the company can’t. Instead, I mean that you need to come out of the negotiation happy with what you agreed on. 

9. Consider the whole compensation package 

Let’s say the company can’t offer your salary expectations. Another way to make the negotiation still good for you is to consider the whole compensation package. Remember, salary is not the only thing that can bring job satisfaction

Try to negotiate for bonuses, benefits, paid time off, perks, flexible or remote work schedules, professional development opportunities, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), etc… Even if you get a lower salary, these other things can more than make up for it. 

OK, you’re uncomfortable enough asking for a pay raise. How much more if you have to move on to compensation?

One way you can approach this is to ask about it first. Say something like “So, I’m really excited about the job opportunity and can agree on the salary. But I was wondering if there’s any flexibility with the compensation package?”

This question opens up the door to negotiate the next thing. I advise you to already know what type of benefits you prioritize, if not the salary. 

Read More: How To Ask About Benefits After Job Offer (With Email Sample)

10. Keep it positive

Throughout the whole negotiation, you should always keep things positive. For one, it will get rid of your nerves and gender pay gap fears. 

Also, with a positive mindset, you’ll approach the negotiation table differently. I like how Alexandra Mislin puts it:

A positive mindset means approaching negotiations with curiosity. Make it about trying to work out a problem, not winning a fight. This approach is more aligned with social expectations that women are communal, and it is also a best practice that produces better results.

One more thing. Being positive helps maintain a constructive and amicable atmosphere, increasing the likelihood of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement with your employer. So keep those negative thoughts and attitudes far away. 

Now, if you’re a naturally negative woman, that’s easier said than done. This is why I suggest practicing some positivity before you go through the negotiation process. Trust me, it will make your negotiation so much easier as a woman. 

11. Know that you don’t have to take the job 

What if you can’t negotiate anything to your terms? What if the final offer doesn’t satisfy you? Or, what if you sense the employer has gender bias or discrimination against you and you know you won’t get far in the job?

I say, turn it down. You’re not obliged to accept an employer or company that doesn’t treat you fairly. If you do, you might just spend your days miserable at work. Anyway, you can always find a better company with great management, salary, and benefits. 

However, give yourself a few days to think about it. You don’t want to regret your decision. If you’re sure you don’t want it, then go ahead and continue your job search. You’ll be able to land a dream job soon enough. 

Read More: How To Accept a Job Offer After Failed Negotiations (With Email Sample)

Final Words

Yes, there is a gender pay gap. You only need to look at the stats to know it’s true. If you want to counter that, then you must know how to negotiate your salary. 

Go ahead and follow the 11 tips for women to negotiate a higher salary if you want a better chance at success. Don’t let the fears and doubts stop you from getting the salary you deserve. Good luck!

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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