On a hot summer evening, the calm of an empty agency slowly started to fill with young professional women walking around a sea of empty seats. After just a few minutes, every seat was filled and women still trickled in through the door. When it was time to begin the town hall the space was standing room only, with women crowding in wherever they could.
We were informed the night before that only 10 tickets had been sold and the organizers of the event were confident that the event should be canceled. But founder Claire Wasserman refused to cancel Portland’s first Ladies Get Paid Town Hall. Less than 24 hours later, the event kicked-off to an overflowing room of participants. These women are artists, designers, recruiters, editors, executives, and business owners, but this no doubt is only a handful of industries that were represented.
What is Ladies Get Paid (LGP)?
Ladies Get Paid is an international group of women helping each other advocate for themselves and eliminate the gender wage gap, “one raise at a time.” At first glance, LGP is a collection of online resources and webinars but if you find your way to their bustling Slack channel, you’ll find a thriving community of 8,000+ women asking for and sharing advice about job interviews, workplace politics, and, most importantly, how to negotiate like a boss and get paid what you’re worth.
Like a lot of women, I have read many articles about the wage gap and lamented internally about my unfair treatment at work and in the world. I thought that I didn’t have enough experience to change my situation. Then I joined the LGP Slack channel and engaged with dozens of women who fought for better treatment and wages in their professional life. I was able to see patterns of success, but I still wasn’t a firm believer until it was my turn to negotiate for my life.
I was terrified. I took my fears and reservations to the LGP Slack community where I received a myriad of articles and words of encouragement. I discovered that everything that I had been told was true: in the business world, it is expected that you are going to ask for more money. Men do it without hesitation.
Brief Herstory of Ladies Get Paid
There are 7.4 billion people on the planet and slightly more than half are women, but women do not hold nearly as many positions of leadership as men do. Women aren’t even paid the same as men for doing the exact same job: for every dollar a white man makes, a white woman will make 78¢, but a black woman will make 63¢ and a hispanic woman (like myself) will make a measly 54¢. Founder Claire Wasserman wants to change that ratio by helping women recognize their value and build the confidence they need to demand a fair wage.
The Purpose of a Ladies Get Paid Town Hall
The offline Ladies Get Paid community is growing, bringing women together through their shared experiences and enabling them to meet in person. The Ladies Get Paid Town Hall had a panel of women from different professions and stages in their career, who each briefly discussed their journey to self-empowerment. What developed during the evening was a large discussion of inspiring commentary from women at all levels of management.
Participants heard stories from their peers in the local community and also shared their own stories or advice. The community came together about the overwhelming lack of trust women receive the workplace and from from ourselves. We discussed how to get away from being called the “office mom”or being referred to as a “bitch” when you’re a woman in power. Hearing others work through similar issues is such a simple concept, but empowering.
“Bitch” is the New “Boss”
How do you get what you want while getting work done? Be diligent. Be assertive. Don’t take no for an answer. Speak your mind.
At this point in our culture this is a cliche; these traits make a man a perfect leader, but they make a women seem like a total “bitch.” Some women at the town hall didn’t like the word, but many others wondered why the term was so bad – that’s how you get to be the VP, Director or Founder. Bitch is not a word for just anyone to use, especially not men. It is a word that women can use to feel powerful, successful, and in charge of their own life.
Attend a Ladies Get Paid Event
Ladies Get Paid PDX holds events each month, which you can find on the LGP events page.
All photos by Jayne Liu and are provided for AIGA’s use by Ladies Get Paid.