New Seminar Teaches Women to Lean in for More Money

Through Shenkman Career Fund, Margaret “Maggie” New will teach salary negotiations course for women.

Salary Negotiations
(Rob Stewart/GW Today)
March 04, 2015
The White House says women working full-time jobs earn 77 percent of what their male counterparts make.
It’s a statistic that continually has frustrated Margaret New, the Elliott School of International Affairs’ associate director of career counseling and advising. She’s kept a vigilante eye on the wage gap between men and women. Dr. New completed a certificate program at Harvard Law School a few months ago and learned that part of the problem is that women often don’t negotiate their starting salaries. 
“So many young women leaving college or master’s programs go into job interviews and don’t negotiate—they just take what they get,” she said. 
That’s why Dr. New turned to the Shenkman Career Fund, established by Board of Trustees member Mark R. Shenkman, M.B.A. ’67. She submitted a proposal to lead a six-week seminar that will help 12 young women learn to negotiate for the salaries they think they deserve. Dr. New received an award for the idea and will launch her course March 30.
Dr. New said she modeled the seminar after the program she attended at Harvard. She teaches female jobseekers how to research their value, plan interviews and ultimately negotiate with future employers. The course will involve role-playing sessions in which students act as both prospective employees and employers. Negotiating is a skill, she said, that requires practice. Her students will receive feedback from other members of the class, and, at the end of the seminar, Dr. New will pair each of them with a GW mentor to discuss future job offers.
The cohort of 12 students will learn how to write out BATNAs—“best alternatives to a negotiated agreement”—worksheets. One of the most important tips Dr. New offers her students is that they should do as much research as possible on how much an organization’s other employees make, and what their own value is. With this information, potential job applicants can write out their salary target goals, reservation goals and possible alternatives before accepting or declining a job. 
“It takes a lot of time to put together your plan and think through your strategy,” Dr. New said. “But by the end, the students are going to have some very good skills.”
She also urges job applicants to always let the employer make the first offer and to consider the number they are given for at least a day. 
“In the initial moment, you’re excited, but you want to think it over sanely in case you need to ask for more money,” she said. 
Dr. New’s seminar is open to all members of the GW community, and she is taking applications from interested students until March 8. Although it’s the first iteration, Dr. New sees the seminar as a pilot that will help her plan more courses like this.
“We have to help society change its impression of working women,” she said. “We still have people who don’t understand that women are working because they want to have their own profession. They’re often supporting a family—they aren’t working just as a second income or for play money.”
To learn more about Dr. New’s class, email her at [email protected].

Margaret "Maggie" New