As a freelance market research writer (my service sheet is here), I regularly check my public profiles to make sure they’re up to date. This time, I checked my profile on Savio, a marketplace connecting market research buyers with research experts, which is maintained by GreenBook.
After clicking around the website for a bit, I realized that every researcher’s hourly rate was completely and easily transparent, not hidden behind multiple clicks and privacy walls. My brain gears sped up….
People don’t talk about salaries which is a problem. Freelancers don’t know if they’re being paid what they deserve. Women don’t know if they’re being paid less than their equivalent male counterparts. So in that regard, I have to thank Savio and Greenbook for opening the black box and helping researchers see a piece of reality.
I downloaded the data and removed the business profiles. That left me with 191 individuals who provided an hourly rate, country, and the types of work they do. I manually gendered all the profiles. Obviously, I may have gotten a few wrong as I am not the gender police (much better said by Effin Birds) – 83 women, 107 men, and 1 unknown.
As all good data people do, I started with a frequency distribution. A few things were immediately apparent. 1) 3% of men and 4% of women VASTLY undervalued themselves. If you have listed an hourly rate under $50 per hour, go to your profile right now and FIX IT. I never want to see an hourly rate less than $50. From any freelancer. For anything. 2) 6% of men and 2% of women listed stunningly high rates, a couple over $1000 per hour. These rates might be for bragging, for negotiating, or for real but if you can command them, more power to you. 3) Women were far more likely to undervalue themselves while men were far more likely to overvalue themselves. [“THAT was a pencil in the neck moment!” -Luke Sklar]
Maybe group averages would paint a different picture but nope. Across all 191 rates, women asked for 81% of what men did – $168 versus $207 per hour.I tried excluding outliers from 12 people whose rates were below $50 or above $500. Women still asked for 81% of what men asked – $153 versus $189 per hour. I then focused on the three countries with at least 8 researchers. In Canada, two women and myself listed rates that were a paltry 40% of what five men listed. Among 123 US researchers, women asked for a somewhat better 80% of what men asked for. I am thrilled, though, to offer a huge hurray to the 14 researchers in the UK where hourly rates listed by men and women were equal. (Okay, women can increase their hourly rates by $5 in the UK.)
Maybe it’s because women do “less valuable” work so I tried grouping by the 25 different type of work people specified they did. Major caveat though – these data do not account for the fact that someone might charge different rates for different types of work.
I’ll pick out two examples from the chart since it’s a little bit complicated and uses two axes. At the left of the graph, among people who offer legal research services, women specified an hourly rate of $169 compared to men at $136. Thus, women listed a rate that was 124% of what men listed. There exist four categories of work where women listed a higher hourly rate than men – Legal Research, Field Services, Recruiting, and Support Services.
Second, at the right of the chart, among researchers who conduct Mystery Shopping, women listed an hourly rate of $138 compared to men at $225. Women listed a rate that was 61% of what men listed. There exist 21 categories of work where men listed a higher hourly rate than women.
I don’t know if these differences are because women undervalue themselves or because men overvalue themselves. I don’t know how much of these differences exist for bargaining or bragging purposes.
But I do know this. As much as I love statistics, t-tests and chi-squares aren’t necessary to determine the likelihood that these results are due to chance. Correlations and Cohen’s D aren’t necessary to determine whether the effect sizes are meaningful.
Women ask for less financial compensation than do men.
Women, my advice to you is simple. Give yourself a raise. Give yourself a giant fucking raise. (I’m channeling my inner Cindy Gallop and I urge you to follow this amazing woman on Twitter or LinkedIn and personally talk about your salary with her here.)
If you’re currently in the $50 to $99 bucket, up your rate to land in the $100 to $149 bucket. If you’re in the $200 to $249 bucket, give yourself a raise into the $250 to $299 bucket. Don’t think twice, it’s all right.
If you’re curious, I may have started my day claiming my worth to be 80% of what my male research colleagues felt they were worth.
It sure didn’t end that way.
You might wish to look at:
- The gender split in #MRX conferences: 2018 edition
- The gender split in #MRX conferences: 2017 edition
- The gender split in #MRX conferences: 2016 edition
- The gender split in #MRX conferences: 2015 edition
Someone’s wishing they could go back in time!
He followed up with a too short response on Twitter which satisfied almost no one.
As a result, I’ve decided to share the advice that I offer to both men and women regarding raises.
Ask for a raise. You won’t get what you don’t ask for. I want that brownie but no one is going to just get it for me. Well, actually that’s not true. I yap on so much about sugar that someone ALWAYS brings me sweets at conferences. And I like it that way. But let’s ignore that example. HR and benefits packages are very carefully planned according to the companies financial success. Your ‘preferences’ are not part of that plan. Your ‘wishes’ and ‘hopes’ and ‘dreams’ are not part of that plan. You won’t get more staples or more pens if you don’t ask for them. Why is a raise any different. You are in charge of making sure you achieve what you want in life. No. One. Else.
You won’t die by asking for a raise. I get it. It’s uncomfortable. Embarrassing. Humiliating. “But I’m shy,” you say. Tough *&^%. So am I. The world is designed for extroverts who love gathering together 50 of their closest friends to share their most intimate secretes. Well, this is yet another case where anxious and shy people lose out. But you won’t die asking for a raise. I haven’t yet.
Prove you’re worth it. Whiney babies need not apply. If you can’t back up your request with specific examples of how you’ve improved productivity, increased customer satisfaction, increased sales, increased the quality of processes, take a year and DO those things. Then go ask for a raise.
Your best chance at a huge raise is getting a new job. Most companies are set up to offer raises according to cost of living increases. If you are a great employee, you might even get a raise of up to 10%. What’s 10% of $50 000? It’s just $5 000. What could you get by taking your experience and selling your skills to a new company? $20 000 or more. Assuming you are currently employed, if you can be patient, wait for the job that gives the raise you want. My advice – stay in your first job for a couple of years and learn, learn, learn. Get a good raise at your second job and stay for a couple of years. Your third job should be a job you LOVE and you should hope for a nice big raise. Yes, this is ideal and completely guaranteed. But have a plan and you’ll be further ahead.
When a hiring company asks you, “What were you earning in your last position?,” don’t answer that question. Really, you’re not obligated to answer ANY question they ask. You CAN, however, say something like “I’m looking for a position that offers $50 000.” It doesn’t matter if your last job paid you $30 000 or $50 000 or $70 000. YOU are the person who decides what you are worth and what you are willing to accept. YOU have the power to accept or decline a job based on the salary.
Happy to share more personal opinions about ANY questions along these lines.
- Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: women should trust that ‘the system will give you the right raises’ (theverge.com)
- Nadella tells women they don’t have to ask for raises, trust the system instead (blogs.seattletimes.com)
- Microsoft CEO to women: Don’t ask for a raise, trust the system – and karma (salon.com)
- Microsoft’s Nadella Backtracks From Comment About Women (bits.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Microsoft CEO under fire for saying women should trust HR systems to deliver pay raises (geekwire.com)
- Microsoft CEO to Women: Don’t Ask for a Raise (nymag.com)
- Microsoft CEO Tells Women Not to Ask For a Raise at Women in Tech Event (valleywag.gawker.com)