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Project aims to bridge gender gap





On average, women are paid 77 cents to every dollar a man receives, and the Women's Leadership Project at Fort Hays State University is trying to bridge the gender gap.

Approximately 25 students attended the third annual "$tart $mart $alary Negotiation Workshop" hosted by professors in the leadership studies department.

"I have never negotiated a salary, and I never knew I could," said Christie Brungardt, director of the WLP. "Understand, although it would be easy to blame other people for women making less money, many times the first person to blame would be looking you back in the mirror."

The workshop aimed to help young women entering the work force know their values and a reasonable salary for the position.

"I'm searching for a job right now, so I think this information will be very valuable in the future," said senior Alyssa Peppiatt.

Jill Arensdorf, chairwoman of the leadership studies department, said women are less likely to start as high as men, and are less likely to receive the same promotions.

"When promoting an employee, the company may think, 'I don't want to invest this much money because she's of child bearing age and we don't want to invest in someone who may not be here in a year,' " Arensdorf said. "It's something your employers are going to think, and you can't control that."

Brungardt agreed.

"As an employer myself for many years who had three children," she said, "I thought about it as well. As a female employer, I would have those thoughts when I was hiring someone because it is the reality of the situation."

After receiving a job offer, the negotiation should begin.

Brungardt said the three "T's" for negotiation are tone, tactic and tips.

"If they offer the job to you, it's because they want you," Brungardt said. "So much about negotiation isn't about the money, but the process, and how you go about it."

The keys to tone are "be positive, be persuasive and be flexible."

"Never be the first one to name a salary figure," Brungardt said referring to correct tactics. "When the employer asks, this is a trick question."

In order to first know a proper salary to suggest, Brungardt and Arensdorf said research is an important part of the process.

"Know what you're worth," Arensdorf said. "And know what is reasonable for the position."

After figuring out a salary range and receiving a job offer, negotiation is key.

"Salary is based on four things," Brungardt said. "Assessment of your capabilities, employer's budget, market rates for the job and your ability to negotiate."

Oftentimes, if the employer's budget does not cover the necessary salary, Arensdorf said, employers might compensate with benefits, which also might be negotiable.

"We all have the ability to negotiate," Brungardt said. "But many of us have not had the willingness. In this world, you just have to negotiate."