Salary negotiation is something of an art. For women, who face a gender wage gap, it’s particularly important to have a plan in place before heading to the bargaining table. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that as of 2015, women earn approximately 80% of what men are paid. (Read: The Gender Wage Gap.)

Part of the problem, according to Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, authors of the book “Women Don’t Ask,” is that women aren’t proactive about asking for more money. The result is that the typical female worker misses out on more than $500,000 in earnings over the course of her career.

Successfully negotiating a higher salary requires some prep work, but it can be well worth your time if it results in a larger paycheck. These tips can help women put their best foot forward when engaging in salary talks with their employer. (See also: Salary Negotiation Strategies That Can Backfire.)

Dos and Don’ts of Salary Negotiation for Women

When it comes to salary negotiation, there are certain best practices women should observe, as well as mistakes they’re better off avoiding. Here are six dos and don’ts.

1. Do understand your value to the company.

One of the most significant bargaining chips women should be utilizing fully is knowing what makes them deserve a higher salary. Being able to point to a track record of successful deals that have increased the company’s revenue, for example, is proof positive that your employer is going to get a solid return on its investment by paying you more.

2. Do have realistic expectations.

Having a clear idea of what you’re worth as an employee is important because it can help you tailor your negotiations more effectively. At the same time, women need to be sure that the amount of money they’re asking for is an achievable goal.

Look at where the company is. Are earnings up? Does your employer have a healthy bottom line that would allow it to pay you more? Next, consider what other people in your field are earning. Compare salaries for jobs similar to yours on sites like or so you have a ballpark figure of what’s considered the norm.

3. Do set the right tone.

The way that women approach salary negotiations can be critical in determining the outcome. A 2012 study from the Hass School of Business at UC Berkeley, for example, suggests that women who put on a charming veneer are more likely to get a positive reception when negotiating. Taking a firm but approachable stance can help you strike the right balance when it’s time to negotiate. 

4. Don’t focus solely on salary.

Salary negotiations can touch on much more than just your base pay. While you’re negotiating, look at your larger compensation package. That includes things like vacation days, bonuses, stock options, paid leave and fringe benefits. Negotiating these and other employee perks should be a key part of your salary talks.

5. Don’t tip your hand too quickly.

A smart strategy women should observe is to let their employer make the first move when it comes to throwing out a number. One of the worst mistakes you can make when trying to wrangle more money is low-balling yourself right from the start. Instead, let the other side take the lead and keep your response as neutral as possible. Play your cards close to the vest until you’ve had a chance to fully make your case. (See: What to Do When You Are Underpaid.)

6. Don’t let emotions guide your decision-making

It’s very easy to take salary negotiations personally, especially when you’re trying to play up your strengths and your employer points out weaknesses. Letting emotions into the equation can make things go badly. Your best bet? Stay cool, calm and collected, and remember that your employer’s salary offer is likely to be a reflection of current market conditions rather than your personality.

The Bottom Line

Salary negotiation often entails a lot of back and forth, and it can take time to reach a compromise. A confident attitude and a well-planned argument justifying a pay raise are two of the most powerful tools women have at their disposal. The better you understand your position and that of your employer, the better the odds of getting the salary you’re angling for.    


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