7 Ways To Figure Out If You're Underpaid

Illustrated by Hejab Malik.
Fact: The wage gap is real, and it’s a worldwide phenomenon. If you’re a working woman, there’s a good chance you’re underpaid. Despite awareness campaigns and progress achieved by women human rights activists, the global average of annual earning proves that men still far out-earn women: They make $20,000 in comparison to our $11,000. In 2016, the World Economic Forum reported that it could take 170 years to close the wage and employment-opportunity gaps.
Gender pay gap statistics differ greatly from country to country. The good news is that most countries are progressing for the better. The bad news: North America is the only region where the gap is increasing. However, we’ve gotten better at highlighting the gender pay gap through various awareness initiatives (Equal Pay Day) and legal frameworks (CEDAW General Recommendation No.13: Equal remuneration for work of equal value). We're also now defining "work" to take into account the value of women’s non-monetized contributions through unpaid care work: domestic housework, childcare, and elderly support.
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It would be ideal for women and men to be paid equally by the worth of their work, and not just because it would benefit their individual lives. If men and women were paid equally, the worldwide GDP would grow by $12 trillion. While the wage gap is complicated and closing it is far from simple, there are things that individuals can do to help fix this problem. If you are a woman, the first step is to personally find out how much you should be paid for the job you’re doing — and if you’re being underpaid. Not sure where to start? Ahead, seven ways to find out.
It’s 2017, and yet women are still fighting for equality. Data suggests it will take until 2152 to close the gender wage gap, but it shouldn’t take a century to get what we want. We want more, and Refinery29 is here to help — because 135 years is too long to wait for what we deserve today.
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Start by checking out Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth app. It takes your title, company, location, and experience into consideration and provides you with a personalized salary estimate. It will also continue to track your worth so you know if your raise is consistent with the industry average.

If you’re lucky enough to have colleagues or friends who work in the same industry and who are willing to openly talk about money, it’s also worth asking them to share their salary information for company-specific comparison. However, many companies have rules that discourage employees from sharing information. Make sure you’re talking with trusted colleagues — and that you know your rights.
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Online job searches aren't just helpful when you're looking for a new gig. A few hours of browsing can give you an overview of expected salaries and benefits for someone of your position and experience. Seek out niche job boards that are location and industry-specific for some of the most relevant information.

Some examples of niche job boards include: Idealist (nonprofit jobs), Flexjob (flexible/telecommuting jobs), and Bitcoin Vacancy (cryptocurrency industry). Here is a helpful listing of niche job boards, sorted by industry.

While job boards are great for certain salary-benchmarking purposes, don’t substitute them for a better method of research: networking.
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Get in touch with recruiters and headhunters who specialize in your line of work. These folks are extremely knowledgeable about salary and compensation packages and may be willing to divulge information about the current market rate. To use this strategy, make the time to attend networking events. Don’t forget to update your résumé and clean up your LinkedIn profile.

Bonus: Recruiters may be looking for someone exactly like you! Switching jobs is an effective method to get an immediate pay bump.
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If you have been with your company for a few years and have not received consistent pay raises according to industry standard, you are definitely underpaid. Salary increments, especially early in your career, make a big difference. If you continue to miss out on raises, your future self may lose out tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your career.

When you get promoted, make sure to ask for a salary package that is consistent with the market rate instead of accepting a meager 2-5% raise. Remember that it is more expensive for the company to hire and train new talent than to give you the salary you deserve.
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Is it fair to perform tasks outside of your job description that are integral to the company’s success, but without a salary bump? This happens more often than you think. Take note of your skill sets and compare your current tasks to what you were originally hired to perform. You might find out your company is making use of some of your skills free of charge.

If you have been overperforming, you might feel the pressure to continue. It might make you a good team player, but sooner or later, it will be at your expense — literally. There are different strategies to continue from here, depending on your company culture. Ask for fair compensation; if that is not possible, negotiate to delegate the extra work to other colleagues.

You might worry about appearing unhelpful, and you’re right. Unfortunately, women who are deemed "unhelpful" in the workplace face backlash (men do not). Here are some strategies you can use to navigate this tricky situation.
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Do your colleagues seem to have a lot more disposable income than you? It might be a sign that you are being underpaid. This is a tricky one, and should be done sparingly — it’s easy to start feeling resentful, which can lead to a hostile working environment.

Just because your colleagues have more in disposable income does not mean they earn more. They might be lucky enough to receive an inheritance, maybe they don’t have dependents, or maybe they have a partner who earns more. Maybe they’ve scaled back other expenses, or maybe they have debt. They might even have side businesses, solid investment strategies, or secretly won the lottery (it’s plausible!).
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Last, but not least, let’s look at an internal factor. External factors such as company decisions and state of the economy pale in comparison to your biggest asset: your role in self-determination. So many of us face discriminatory hiring practices in our lives, but we also have the power to fight for the pay we deserve. Opportunities exist in all types of market conditions.

Being content is also synonymous with another word: inaction. This is a choice in itself, and it is a very dangerous state to fall into. Inaction in one area of your life might affect other areas, and it can prevent you from seeking better opportunities or help. It may encourage you to stay in an unhappy relationship or prevent you from finding ways to self-improve. Take time to reflect on your own state of mind, and remember the importance of investing in yourself.
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