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Salary Story: I Found Out My Male Colleague Earns 40% More Than Me

Illustrated by Chiara Xie.
In our series Salary Stories, women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.
Been in the workforce for at least five years and interested in contributing your salary story? Submit your information here. Published stories receive £100.
Age: 27
Location: Bristol
Current industry and job title: Medical engineering, design quality engineer
Current salary: £44,000
Number of years employed since school or university: Six
Starting salary: £15,500 in 2015
Biggest salary jump: From £32,800 to £44,000 in 2022.
Biggest salary drop: From £30,000 to £23,000 on furlough in 2020.
Biggest negotiation regret: When I switched departments after my graduate scheme finished, I asked for more money and was told no because I’d just been given a small pay rise for coming off the grad scheme the month before. I was definitely underpaid compared to my peers, and didn’t actually move to that department until a few months later anyway so should have fought harder. When I got there I was told “Why didn’t we get you sooner?”, so I think they were pretty keen to get me on board, but I didn’t want to risk not getting the job by pushing back on the salary.
Best salary advice: Learn your market value — always engage with recruiters that reach out so you can get an idea of what they’d currently offer you. You don’t even have to apply to any jobs they’re offering, but those 15 minute recruitment chats are valuable insights into your worth.