By: Revanche

A rising income, and a competitive streak

May 7, 2012

With my promotion came a healthy bump in salary to a number that I’d been aiming at for some time. It’s not the  “magic” six-figure number but it’s a necessary and great goalpost to reach.

I’ve insisted on making specific progress on salary for several reasons:

1. Regain lost ground. If I had stayed in a different niche of my field, I had the opportunity to make that salary earlier, with more robust and affordable benefits. I consciously chose change because it was time to temporarily give up the money for wider experience and a different environment was the wiser and healthier life option. But I wanted to get back on top.

2. Aim highly, and fail at negotiating. And win as well. Negotiating is highly uncomfortable. Not as in, I won’t do it, but as in, I hate how bad I feel at it. So I have to keep aiming at a higher number that I know I’m worth and negotiating, failing or succeeding, to get better at it. My work will back it up but until I master the art of simply negotiating, I’d always wonder how much I left something on the table.

3. Winning. I like winning. Obviously. And I treasure a win that scores a point for women that much more. I’ve always played against the boys when I competed: in sports, in academia, in grit. I wanted to be faster, tougher, smarter, meaner, and better in every possible way. Call it a family legacy or a survival instinct, I was practically born knowing that the patriarchy* was my enemy and I was going to crush its influence as far as I could.

There might have been a pivotal moment in my life, when I might have gone down the path of becoming a traditional docile woman. Then my dad said no, I couldn’t do something “because you’re a little girl.” He was actually concerned about my weighing all of 28 lbs with a bookbag, rather than being female, but at age five I heard sexist discrimination which got my dander up and it stayed up ever since.

I’m joking a little but really, if I heard sexism when I was five, I was probably long lost to docility. Sorry, Nurture.

This made me an insufferable little sister growing up, of course, until we figured out that it made me a perfectly decent little brother. As an adult, I don’t need to “think Iike a man” or a woman to get ahead. I think like me: I am rational, reasonable, seek compromise to create solutions but equitably because I’ll stand my ground until the cows come home. No one is going to play me, my team or my department. No one makes the mistake of thinking I’m soft in the workplace twice. And going over my head only gets the finger pointed right back to me.

So if women are chronically underpaid against men dollar for dollar? You better believe I’m going to do something about that.

4. Family.  As much as my quest for breaking barriers and seeking equality for women in my small way, I always always sort of expected I might have kids. Practically speaking, I still have no idea how I’d manage but financially, the safest plan seemed to be: make as much as possible, secure a hefty savings, allow one of us to stay home.

Just think: If I earn at least six figures, or more, can you imagine what our savings would look like?! I regularly dream about that.  And I will admit to trying to game the system of “creating choice”, to become the primary breadwinner, so that it would “only seem logical” that PiC stay home with the kid(s). I’d feel guilty secretly confessing here except he already knows I’m up to no good (TBD). 😉

*Patriarchy doesn’t equal men. The patriarchy I fought was the assumption that “little girls” can’t do the same things that men or boys can do, nor should they try, simply because they’re girls which automatically makes them weaker, dumber, illogical, morally weak or any number of demeaning assumptions that come with “don’t worry your little head about that.” Patriarchy is the assumption that men are superior in any and every way to women and deserve more (money, prestige, property, rights) simply because they are men and we are women. 

I get along just fine with males as long as they accord me the respect I’ve earned, as I will for them. I spent many of my younger years competing and associating with males. Incidentally, that made it quite easy to very quickly disabuse several male bullies of the notion that I was any kind of a target, much less an easy one.  

Many young males of my acquaintance bonded through competition, bragging, and chest beating; social order and hierarchy were established by these means though sometimes folded into somewhat more civilized behaviors (video games, academics), and since I was right in the middle of it, I learned to understand them quite early on. And they became pretty great friends.  

7 Responses to “A rising income, and a competitive streak”

  1. Single Ma says:

    I love your drive. At the rate you’re going, 6 figures is on the way.

    So you mean to tell me PiC already knows he’s going to stay home with the (future) kids all day? BAAAAA HAAAA HAAAA

  2. Ugh, I hate having to negotiate. Like you, that doesn’t mean I won’t, but it just makes me feel super uncomfortable.

    Congratulations on the salary milestone! You’ll hit 6 figures in no time!

  3. Congrats on the promotion. That always feels great on many levels to get recognized, accomplish something tangible, and get more money :

    As to the other comments on gender equality….I’d like to think that we should all be treated equally in different situations. It goes both ways, no special exceptions. As a parent of a daughter and son, I can hope we’re moving in that direction.

  4. Congrats on your promotion and thank you for sharing your tips along the way.

    I’ve also been recently involved in some salary negotiations, and it’s never easy and I dislike it, but it had to be done.

  5. Shelley says:

    I grew up with patriarchy – men are automatically higher on the ladder of life – in Oklahoma, with American parents. I accepted it for a long time as being ‘how things are’ but when I moved to Britain I discovered a whole different attitude. It still exists here, but it’s not the mainstream. It’s one of my favourite things about Bill that he doesn’t have that attitude. I love that you have such courage to fight it. Congratulations on your promotion. I’m seating in your cheering section!

  6. Revanche says:

    @SingleMa: He’s already offered to practice by staying at home with Doggle all day!

    @paranoidasteroid: Yeah it feels like crap sometimes but as with all things …. 🙂

    @Tie the Money Knot: I don’t think we’re ever going to be treated precisely equally BUT I think it would be fair if it was unequal because it was on our merits. I’m speaking only on a professional level of course. That would be ideal – where gender didn’t matter, where results, efforts, creativity, enthusiasm, proactivity and all good things were rewarded over the lack thereof.

    @fabulously frugal: Good on you!

    @Shelley: I saw a lot of that nearby growing up but I was lucky enough that only light touches entered my life – just enough to light my engine.


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