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Matt Dunning

Women must articulate values to close wage gap: Speakers

December 3, 2013 - 3:59pm


NEW YORK — To eradicate the gender compensation gap, women must adjust the way they recognize and articulate their own value within their companies, keynote speakers said Tuesday during Business Insurance’s 2013 Women to Watch Leadership Workshop.

The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that women earned approximately 82 cents for every dollar that men earned in 2011. The wage gap was even more pronounced in the financial services industry, which includes the insurance and risk management sectors, where women earned less than 63 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

“This is not about ‘being nice to girls’ or tokenism, and this is not about fixing women,” Meryle Mahrer Kaplan, senior vice president at Catalyst Inc., a research and advocacy group, said during her keynote address at the New York event. “This is about doing something that really advances women and business.”

By dispelling stereotypes and promoting “the real picture of women,” Ms. Kaplan said much of the ability to achieve wage parity resides in women themselves.

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” news program, struck a similar chord in her keynote address, during which she encouraged women professionals not to shy away from a more forceful approach when negotiating compensation.

“We think knowing and articulating our own value is unattractive,” Ms. Brzezinski said. “Women have to learn how to present themselves, and how to be strong and tough when we’re negotiating, because the fact is that that’s who executives want on their teams. They want someone who’s going to fight hard, not someone who’s going to be their friend.”

View the 2013 profiles.