Monday, May 01, 2006
  He got what he was asking for
Last week (or so) I went in to my local Sprint store to purchase a hands free headset for my cell phone. The guy behind the counter asked if there was anything else I needed... how about an extra line? I jokingly replied, "Nope, not unless if you can give it to me at no extra monthly charge."

His answer? "I think I can do that."

And he did. So now my teenage daughter has a cell phone (which is great because she needs to be picked up afterschool five days a week and the timing is dependent upon how long the tennis matches run.) and it isn't costing us anything beyond the thirty bucks I paid for the phone itself and the twenty bucks to initialize it.

This little incident really struck me, because I almost said, "Nope, just the headset." If I hadn't asked, I wouldn't have gotten the deal.

It reminded me of my sister-in-law, who at the fireworks clearance sale last year asked the proprietor, "what kind of deal can you give me?" And so instead of buying 1 and getting 3 free, we bought 1 and got 5 free. Without having to wheedle or bargain... just for the asking.

It also reminded me of an article I read last year which said that one of the reasons women with comparable skills and background don't make as much as men for comparable work is because women are more uncomfortable than men about asking for a high salary or for promotions and raises. In essence, they lowball themselves, accepting whatever is offered, while men ask for more than they expect they will get. As a result, men get paid more.

In one study of university grads, the difference averaged out to men making 7% more -- over 4,000 dollars more -- each year. In the lifetime of a career, that equates to some $500,000! While this seven percent doesn't account for the total wage gap between men and women -- women on average currently make about 76 cents on the dollar compared to men -- it is a significant percentage.

The studies found that not only do women lack confidence when it comes to negotiating a salary (or the price of a car) but also they also tend to be less likely to promote themselves at work -- they are more hesitant to let others know about their successes, resulting in the perception that they are less competant, continuing a vicious cycle of lower percentage pay raises than their male counterparts. When you consider that this can add up to nearly a half million dollars over a lifetime, it can make the difference between a comfortable retirement, the quality of a child's education, the ability to care for sick parents, etc, etc, etc.

For more details -- check out Women Don't ask. You can find a sample chapter here and a listing of statistics from the book here.

This is an issue for me personally, although I have learned to deal with it over the past five or six years. Used to, someone would ask me, how much do you want for editing a paper or a book manuscript, or how much do you want for this article, and I'd hem and haw, uncomfortable asking what I felt was a decent rate, unsure if what I thought was decent really was, not wanting to ask too much, but not wanting to sell myself short either. Part of that was for a long time, I didn't know what the going rate was -- so I was taking a stab in the dark. The Writer's Market "What Should I Charge" Guide, which has information about everything from ghost writing to copywriting, from tecnical writing to book editing, has been invaluable for me in setting prices, and in negotiating. I use it to show prospective clients what the normal range is, and then ask for a sum that I think is both affordable for my client and reasonable for myself. There is also a good guide at the Editorial Freelancers Association. It's not as comprehensive as the Writer's Market guide, but it is less daunting for a client.
 
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Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.


What I'm reading now



Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too.
MoveOn.org. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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