Thursday, September 22, 2011

Women, Writing and Money

Not a measure of self-worth, but you should charge what you are worth.
Photo by: worradmu

An excellent conversation is taking place over at  After an article discussing the ways to get paid what you are worth and the value of directness in pricing, I had a question.  "Are men more likely to be direct about getting paid then women?"  Writer Anne Wayman took the time to explore the question, believing it to be tied in to self-worth, rather than gender.  As she points out though, isn't that a bit of a gender issue as well?  If you can, by the way, take the survey to express your opinion.  I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

I think this is a really important subject to address.  It's well-known that women are still earning less than men working in the same position.  In 2010, TIME Magazine reported that women only earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

What on earth is going on here?  While on the surface it appears to be a bias issue, the bias wouldn't be allowed if women weren't willingly settling for less.  Granted, wages aren't usually something that is talked about -- I know people who would happily report all about their sex lives but would never tell me what they made last year -- so it's hard to compare.

Are women as a whole more willing to accept a first offer?  Do some of them feel grateful to be hired at all?  Do they not feel worth more?

I'm the first person to confess to feeling a sense of gratitude when someone wants to hire me.  Sometimes the validation that I'm not a crappy writer gets in the way and almost becomes part of the payment.  I'm also still rather new to the game.

I've been working jobs that paid crummy wages for the past 20 years.  The idea of making $50 an hour frightens me.  Could I possibly be worth that much?  I have no college degree.  Enough credits for two separate degrees, but not in the right combination and not at the right schools.  According to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics, the average yearly pay for a woman who has only a high school diploma is $25,000 per year ($32,900 for men -- couldn't you just cry?).  At the job I left earlier this year I was making about $40,000 annually.  So, statistically speaking, I was doing really well for someone with no associate's degree.

Am I crazy to want more?  Am I crazy to think that I am worth more?  I have a skill.  I can write and edit.  I can research.  I can put thoughts together in a logical stream.  I can do these things well.  I had an inkling this was something I might be good at, but until I jumped in and began getting feedback from those who had no reason to coddle me, I could only suspect.

And here we are again.  I thought I was good at writing but I wasn't sure until other people told me so.  As a writer you won't succeed unless other people think your writing is good enough to buy, so there's certainly a point where other people have to think you're good.  So how do you deal with this issue when your creative process must have a dollar amount assigned to it and that dollar amount is determined by whether someone will purchase it at that price?

I know this is a point that has been bandied about for several decades and one blog post isn't going to solve the problem.  It's probably also a good question for my therapist!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

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