Updated: Jul 18, 2020
Should we talk about how much we earn with other women?
I’m going to start by stating the obvious: everyone has their own comfort level with this question.
My opinion... yes
Here’s another opinion (that just so happens to match mine 😊) from The Financial Diet website:
“... if we believe in one thing at TFD [The Financial Diet], it’s that money shouldn’t be taboo, and that one person’s honesty about their own life is not a personal attack on anyone else’s. Having more or less than someone is not something to be ashamed of, nor is it something to be proud of. It just is, and the sooner we accept that money is just like any other necessary aspect of human life, the sooner we can break that taboo and start learning from each other, just as we learn in talking about love or work.”
In an homage to Queen… 🎶 “I want to break free! I want to break free!” 🎶
Merrill Lynch & Age Wave conducted a study (Women & Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line, 2018) finding that 61% of women would rather talk about their own death than finances. The field of sign language interpreters is mostly comprised of women. The odds of us talking about money… slim.
One more quick fact from the ML & Age Wave report: Women’s media doesn’t even touch on personal finances. Of 1,594 pages of editorial content in the March 2018 issues of the top 17 women’s magazines, there were only 5 pages covering personal finance. That’s less than 1%.
No wonder women aren’t openly talking about money! Why would we? It’s not something we are exposed to. We have to shift that paradigm.
Anecdotally (is that a real word? it looks funny!) in the state of Minnesota I have known sign language interpreters with very similar credentials (college degree, national certification, and 10+ years of experience) earning anywhere from $36/hr to $45/hr. A $9/hour difference! If you bill 30 hours a week, that’s a gross income difference of $14,040!
The reasons these women were missing out on the additional $14k dollars:
They didn’t request it from their partnering agencies
They weren’t sure what other interpreters of their caliber were earning
They didn’t know how to request “a raise”... btw, that is the strangest thing about the interpreting industry in Minnesota. These partnering agencies are not your boss. You set the rates (make sure you know your market value!).
[Soap box if you please: When a female is asked to grovel for an additional dollar it makes them feel like they aren’t worth it. It’s frustrating and requires vulnerability. I asked a dude about it and he was like “yeah, I just tell the agency how much I’ll be charging.” In the spirit of the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King… I have a dream that the day will come for women to just tell people how much they’ll be charging!]
Back to the $36 v $45 topic for a moment. The three reasons listed above all point to hesitancy in discussing money.
How do we solve this conundrum?
Discuss money with your people. If you rush out and start asking everyone you meet it’s not going to end well. Start with people you trust.
Make it a regular-ish conversation. Once every 5-10 years probably won’t cut it.
Money is a fact of life. It’s okay to treat it like one.
This blog has given me a lot to think about. Why do women struggle to talk about money? What does it look like in your industry? I’m going to do some research AND I would love to hear from you. If you are comfortable discussing it in public, you can comment on this post or reach us on FB/IG (@financiallyindep). If you prefer to respond anonymously we can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Looking forward to your responses!
If you want to talk money with an expert and are looking for some guidance, head over to our 'services' page and check out the options.
Here’s to you!