In the Fight for Equal Pay, Seattle Isn’t The Hero We Think We Are

By Armoire’s Chief Boss Lady, Ambika Singh

Megan Rapinoe has become synonymous with the fight for pay parity, and here in Seattle, we’re proud to claim the Reign player as our own. Seattle is used to standing at the forefront of many social justice movements like the one for equal pay, but despite the heroes we claim to be, Seattle actually has the highest gender wage gap in tech of any city in the US. How can we claim support for equal pay when our economy thrives on an industry that stands as the epitome of gender discrimination? As women, it’s time to take a more active stand in the fight for pay parity, starting with negotiating our salaries. 

Across all aspects of professional development, women are left behind, especially in tech. Pay disparities drive this problem by creating lower expectations for women in the workplace, whether we’re cognizant of it or not. This leads women to be passed over for promotions and have lower wage expectations. We end up with fewer women in executive positions, on boards, or as investors. Yes, everyone needs to pay their bills, but the wage gap is more than money — it’s a byproduct of a mindset which is taking power out of women’s hands in the workplace. If salary is the biggest indicator of value to a company, the message is clear: women aren’t nearly as valued in the workplace as men.

To elevate professional women, we have to take a more proactive approach in combating the root of the issue. By negotiating our salaries, equal pay enables us to break the cycle which holds women back from executive positions. It’s hard to blame women for not negotiating salary. As women, we’re perceived as less likely to take risks, so it makes sense that women are rationally protecting the opportunities we’ve secured by not negotiating salary. It’s not wrong for women to act rationally during the hiring process, but it needs to be done with the right attitude. How can we make negotiating more approachable for women? As a female hiring manager, here’s my advice: 

1. Know your worth and sell it.

.The hiring process is inherently biased against women. It’s commonly known that women only apply for jobs if they meet 100% of the qualifications, while men strive for 60%. This isn’t a fault in women’s self-confidence, as often incorrectly attributed. It’s a lack of confidence in the hiring system. Studies find while men are judged by their potential, as women, we’re judged for our track record. Historically, women break into male-dominated industries by using our experience as our ticket in. Men don’t need to prove themselves in an environment they’re already in the majority. The only flaw is that citing potential is what tends to get hired, not the bare facts. Learn to approach the hiring process the same way men do. It may feel like lying to go beyond the bare facts when pitching yourself, but there’s a difference between lying and playing to a competitive environment. Sell yourself — not by listing your accomplishments, or citing your track record, but by showing your potential and capabilities.

2. Lean on your tribe.

Find your personal “Board of Advisors,” — people who pump you up, encourage you to speak out, or help advocate for you in the workplace. Women who support other women are more successful. Leaning on other women helps make risk and failure more palatable. Finding women who share our struggles, or have tackled them and won, put risks in perspective, and give us advice on strategy. Women are more risk-averse, so find people who will push you towards new opportunities, and lend a hand when things don’t work out. 

3. Learn to be comfortable with failure.

Big risk means big rewards, but realistically those risks aren’t guaranteed to work out. It’s okay to put yourself out there and fail. If anything, take that failure as a learning opportunity. It’s not the end of the world, but a chance to consider how you could improve. Another opportunity will come along.

Hired + 100% Talent #NothingLess Equal Pay Panel

At the rate we’re going now, the wage gap isn’t expected to close in the US until 2058. Seattle’s tech industry grows exponentially every day, so changes need to be made now. We have a real opportunity to change the face of the tech industry for women, so it’s crucial that we take advantage of the power we have to make a significant impact. Taking a more proactive approach from the very start of the hiring process creates a powerful ripple effect to lift women up across the board. We need to lean on our tribe to demand more, learn to be more comfortable with failure, and at the very least, negotiate our salaries. If money is power, it’s time for us as women to take this power back. 


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