Salary Negotiation for Working Mothers: How to Get What You Deserve in Your Career

by Major League Mommy
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Two women sitting at a table looking at a tablet during a salary negotiation

Photo credit: Source: Unsplash
Source: Unsplash

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Working mothers often face many challenges balancing work demands and family responsibilities. The challenges of such a feat may set working mothers back in their career development and financial stability goals.

However, amidst these hurdles lies a powerful technique that can help them achieve work-life balance: salary negotiation. That said, read below how this method can give working mothers the right footing to shatter barriers and access new opportunities for a thriving professional journey.

But before that, what financial challenges do working mothers encounter?

The Pay Gap for Working Mothers: How Bad is it?

Research shows that the prevailing gender pay gap impacts 94% of occupations and results in women earning only 83 cents for every dollar men earn. However, this gap widens even further for working mothers. They make just 74 cents on the dollar and lose $17,000 annually.

Numerous factors contribute to the persistent wage gap, the most popular being that society still views men as the natural breadwinners. Working mothers and single women also face sexism and workplace biases even to this day. The burden of caregiving responsibilities often compels them to take breaks from the workforce, resulting in lower wages when they eventually return.

These disparities underscore the urgent need to challenge and dismantle traditional gender norms. It emphasizes the need to advocate for equitable pay practices recognizing the value of all individuals’ work, irrespective of gender or parental roles.

Proper compensation is essential, especially with the growing costs of living today. Without it, you may have difficulty building your retirement savings and emergency fund or covering your daily expenses.

How to Negotiate a Salary as a Working Mother

You may face unique challenges when negotiating your salary as a working mother. But with the proper preparation and mindset, you can overcome these roadblocks and get the pay you deserve.


Know your worth
Evaluate your skills and accomplishments and ask peers in similar positions about their compensation. Doing so ensures you’re earning fair compensation based on industry standards and what you can offer to the company.

Request feedback from supervisors and colleagues to better understand your strengths and areas for improvement. The more you know yourself, the more you can confidently ask for fair or higher compensation.

Set your personal and professional goals
Understanding your career goals and priorities can assist you in effectively negotiating a reasonable salary.

Take promotion goals, for example. You can use your goals of getting promoted within the next year as leverage to negotiate a higher salary. Moreover, consider how the proposed salary aligns with your desired work-life balance. Also, examine the benefits and opportunities for growth that can support your personal well-being and family responsibilities.

Timing and approach

Choose the right moment to initiate negotiations
Know the perfect time to negotiate your salary. If you’re a newcomer, waiting a couple of months may be beneficial before engaging in negotiations. Use this time to showcase your value to the organization, so you’ll have something to back up your demands.

Conversely, consider initiating negotiations earlier if you believe you’re under-compensated and do not receive the opportunities you deserve.

Select appropriate communication channels
There are many ways to negotiate your salary. However, the best communication channel for you will depend on your personal preferences and the company culture. For instance, you can talk to your employer in person or over the phone for a more timely negotiation. For transparency, consider using email so you and your employer have something to reference.

Address the “Maternal Wall” bias
The “Maternal Wall” is a bias that can prevent working mothers from getting promoted or receiving raises. This bias stems from the assumption that working mothers are less committed to their careers than working fathers.

Address this bias head-on during your negotiations. Highlight your commitment to your career and capabilities of balancing work and family matters. This way, you can emphasize your desire to grow professionally, which can also help in your goals of receiving fair compensation.

Effective communication during the negotiation

Actively listen and understand the employer’s perspective

Just as you want your employer to know where you’re coming from, you should also see things from their perspective. Pay attention to your employer’s words and clarify unclear parts for better understanding. Additionally, be respectful and polite, even if you disagree with what they’re saying.

Articulate your value proposition and unique contributions
Demonstrate how your contributions align with the company’s objectives and mission. For example, list instances where you’ve taken the initiative or assumed leadership roles to solve problems or mentor colleagues. Consider situations where you’ve created a more efficient process and how it translated to company gains.

On top of this, articulate your willingness to take on new challenges and responsibilities. Showcase your eagerness to grow within the company and make further meaningful contributions.

Work arrangement and benefits

Negotiate for flexible work arrangements
As a working mother, flexible work arrangements can help you balance your job and family responsibilities. If possible, leverage past performance and achievements to validate your capabilities of managing flexible work hours without compromising output quality.

Moreover, provide a detailed proposal outlining the specific flexible arrangements you seek. Include things like remote work options with flexible hours or compressed workweeks. If your employer doesn’t approve at first, propose an experimental week so they can see firsthand how equally productive you can be working remotely.

Evaluate other benefits and perks to supplement the salary
In addition to salary, negotiate other employee benefits and perks that can be valuable to you as a working mother. These benefits can include health insurance, paid time off, childcare assistance, or tuition reimbursement—all of which can alleviate some of your problems and give you more time to become an efficient employee.

Win-win outcomes

Find common ground and mutual benefits
During a salary negotiation, find common ground with your employer. Know what areas both of you can agree on and meet in the middle. What benefits will you and your employer get? Remember to compromise and be open to counteroffers.

Sustain positive relationships with employers after negotiation
Keep a positive relationship with your employer even if you don’t get everything you want in the negotiation. Doing so can benefit you in the long run, especially for future salary negotiations or goals for moving up in the company.

What to Expect From Salary Negotiations

Salary negotiations won’t always go as intended. As such, you must know what to expect before asking your employer for fair or higher compensation.

Increased responsibilities
When you ask for a higher salary, your employer may ask you to take on more responsibilities. They may see it as paying you more for your expertise and skills. If you’re uncomfortable with taking on more tasks, you must prepare to negotiate a higher salary without the additional responsibilities.

Your employer may make a counteroffer when you negotiate for a higher salary. They may offer you a higher salary, but not as high as you requested. If you receive such an offer, you must prepare to negotiate further or walk away from it.

It’s natural to feel apprehensive about salary negotiation, whether it’s you getting more responsibilities or your employer simply not having the capacity to increase your pay. Nonetheless, remember that you deserve to be paid properly for your work. If you’re prepared and confident, you can increase your chances of negotiating a fair salary.

Know Your Worth

Negotiating your salary may seem scary at first. However, it’s important to remember that proper compensation is important, especially if you bring many contributions to the table. Working mothers often face unique challenges when salary negotiation, but following the tips in this article can increase your chances of success.

Remember, you’re a valuable asset to your company, and you deserve to be compensated accordingly.

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