Updated: Mar 30, 2022
There's a painfully relatable scene in HBO's Insecure, when Molly, a sexy, headstrong, whip-smart attorney at an upscale Los Angeles firm, is accidentally handed the wrong paycheck. To her horror, she discovers that she earns an insultingly lower salary than a white male coworker–one who's known to be a straight-up slacker. And, while it makes for juicy television material, sadly, the gender wage gap wasn't dreamt up in a Hollywood writers' room.
It's one of the dark realities of our modern day–where, year after year, a startling number of women come to feel like their brilliance, expertise and net worth never align.
"I once managed a guy who got paid more than me. When I found out, I wanted to throw up," one friend told me. Another friend of mine shared the defeating nature of being paid less than her husband, despite having a higher education than him and working similar hours. "I look at my student loan balance and feel so bitter and stressed. It's not fair," she said. A third friend, a licensed health coach and food blogger, admits she struggles to increase her prices and promote her services in general: "I have imposter syndrome, which means I often charge peanuts for coaching and courses, even though I've probably helped hundreds of lives at this point."
While there's no question that the gender pay gap persists, it's essential to note that Black women are the most marginalized of all. McKinsey & Company's 2020 Women in the Workplace study revealed that Black women are only 58 percent as likely to be promoted to a managerial position as a white man of similar credentials.
But, wait; it gets even more twisted. Another study found that 75 percent of women who've managed to secure the sought-after executive position report feeling like a fraud and wrestling with self-doubt.
What TF is going on? Beyond the obvious maze of systemic racism and sexism, how is it that a myriad of ambitious, educated and talented women have a defeating relationship with efforts to monetize their brilliance and collect their worth? And, how is it that, admittedly, I'm one of them– a mental health journalist, a self-belief enthusiast and a mother to a little girl I for sure don't want to teach to second-guess her own worth?
To navigate this sticky subject, I summoned money experts Rachel Rodgers, author of We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman's Guide to Learning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economic Power and founder of Hello Seven, who I interviewed for an Oprah Daily story earlier this year, and Lisa Chastain, bestselling author of Girl, Get Your $hit Together: Control Your Money, Live Purposefully, Love Your Life and founder of Millennial Consulting LLC, who both shout that it's time we teach society how to treat us–and how to compensate us. OK?
So, if you're tired of groaning every time you deposit your paycheck or process your profit reports, and if you've spent way too long swooning over everyone else's fancy handbags and home renovations and five-star vacation reels, feeling like it's past time to start documenting your own, read on. I asked Rodgers and Chastain for expert tips on how you might rewrite your financial narrative and show up in the world as a magnet for money, once and for all.
Because it's time for you to build the net worth you deserve.
To begin, if you struggle with money worthiness, know that it didn't start with you.
LJ: Why is there a stigma and culture of weirdness around money and worthiness–particularly with women? Why does it often make us shrink?
Rodgers: "As a woman, if you struggle with low confidence, imposter syndrome, or feel like you’re 'just not good' with money, this is no accident. It's the result of centuries of social conditioning and oppression designed to make you feel this way.
Up until the mid-1970s, women weren't allowed to get a credit card or a business loan without a man’s co-signature. And that’s just one example of how women have been denied rights and privileges that men have always enjoyed. So, then, is it any surprise that so many women feel hesitant and uneasy about money? When society tells you 'you can’t have this' or 'you don’t deserve this' over and over—eventually you start to absorb this message."
Chastain: "Women spend 85 percent percent of the world’s wealth, yet we earn 10 percent of the world’s wealth. I think so much of the unworthiness conversation that women are learning to overcome stems from the fact that we haven’t historically been the earners. Therefore, what we have is psychologically not “ours.' In other words, if we don’t 'own' the wealth, how can we make empowered decisions when it comes to money?
There's an uprising of women coming into power in the 21st century. I believe we’ll make big strides in our ability to change the conversation of worthiness attached directly to the results we create in our lives, financially and otherwise."
Fact: Money isn't an intuitive process, so don't be ashamed to ask for help.
LJ: Beyond our societal conditionings and oppressions, which are monstrous, why is it that so many capable, creative and intelligent women struggle to reprogram their money paradigm, even once they've discovered the root of their struggle? What's hanging them up?
Chastain: "While women are highly intuitive, money is not intuitive! Money takes logic, formal learning and systems. Powerful, successful women can at times be their own worst enemies because they don’t ask for help; they're focused on appearing successful by title, appearance and accomplishments. They try doing it alone.
Women need to find safe communities and kind coaches where their privacy is respected, and where they know that their dirty laundry won’t be aired. This is why I believe my money coaching programs work; women can put down their guard and get honest and real about needing help. Most importantly, they aren't doing it alone."
Rodgers: "You need a support network to help you make a big shift. Just like you do your dental hygiene daily, you need to do your mental hygiene daily, whether it be with affirmations, mantras or check-ins with supportive friends, a therapist or a coach."
Before you can attract wealth, you've got to become a good steward of the money you've already got...
LJ: What are some actionable steps you encourage your clients to take in an effort to rehabilitate and reenergize their money reality?
Chastain: "One of the first steps I take with every client is to actively watch their money. Women (and men) make up a lot of stories in their heads about what is true or not true about their financial lives. I have my clients wake up every morning, open their bank accounts and look at their net worth. This single act can be transformative. A lot of fear and shame around money comes from the fact that we’re avoiding our problems. Taking new actions with the money you already have is one of the best ways to re-frame limiting beliefs about it."
Also, kick the scarcity mindset to the curb, once and for all. There's more than enough treasure to go around.
Do you compare yourself to your super gorgeous sibling, to your lucky girlfriend who appears to turn every penny she touches into gold, or to someone who appears to be slaying their goals from your Instagram feed? Do you find yourself keeping an anxious eye on your competition at all times? If so, Rodgers dares you to consider that there's plenty of wealth to go around on this planet for everyone–including you.
Because, while you might be up against two or three people for the big promotion or pay raise, remember that there are stacks of companies, customers and higher-ups who are searching for your specific cocktail of experience, perspective, skillset and style.
LJ: How do we move out of habitual scarcity and into the welcoming of abundance? Like, say, avoiding the temptation to hinge financial freedom and worthiness on a single job or opportunity that many others might be up against?
Rodgers: "The financial trauma from the past still lingers within us women. So, stop being angry at yourself and each other, and, instead, be angry at the system. Then decide, 'From this day forward, I'm choosing to believe something new. I choose to believe that I have valuable skills, that I can earn more, that I can build wealth, that financial success is attainable for someone like me.'
You have to choose a new attitude, otherwise, you’re allowing yourself to remain trapped in a financial prison. Maybe you didn’t build this prison, but you’re choosing to stay in it when you don’t have to anymore."
If you want to earn your worth, you need to internalize it. And you need to be brave in your negotiations.
Here are some questions to consider: Do you go into new career opportunities or contract negotiations with the worry that you'll never get what you deserve? Or, do you toss, turn and sweat long into the witching hours, fearful of pricing yourself out of work? If so, remember this: when it comes to negotiating, someone is always steering the boat. And it might as well be you.
LJ: Let's talk the magic of steering productive, fair negotiation. In a world where there are often only two types of people in a room: the ones who "feel bad" about negotiating for higher rates or salaries, even at risk of devaluing themselves, and the ones who have zero shame about getting whatever they want whenever they want it, even at risk of taking advantage of another–what’s the more powerful way?
Rodgers: "When women entrepreneurs ask me, 'How much should I charge?' I always tell them, 'Take your current price. Double it. There. That’s how much you should charge.' Or, if you work for an employer, ask for double your current salary. Women always think I'm ridiculous when I suggest this. But, the thing is, you’ve probably been undercharging so severely that if you double your current rate, even then, you’ll probably still be offering the deal of the century.
There are so many mediocre white men who have absolutely no problem asking for $10k or $20k or whatever amount to do a shoddy consulting job or a lukewarm speaking engagement. They ask for big bucks with stunning confidence. Which means they get paid what they ask for. You're probably twice as hard-working, meticulous, and talented as Chad or Brian or Matthew, so you should be charging just as much, if not more. Period."
Chastain: "Rather than making the negotiation personal, zoom out to logically understand what you're worthy of based on your qualifications. Once that's in place, get comfortable saying 'No' or 'Let me think about it' when negotiating, rather than losing your power in the boardroom. Remember that it’s okay to ask for time and to walk away, if necessary."
When you go after the higher-paying job or raise your prices, you challenge yourself to show up in a bigger way. Then everyone wins...
LJ: As discomforting as it might be initially, when we shout our value to the world and ask for more compensation, we command ourselves to create our best work. Then everyone wins–including those who pulling out their checkbooks or credit cards. Any insights about this?
Rodgers: "You're absolutely right. When you're forced to rise up and deliver, your employer or client gets a higher, stronger, upgraded version of you. And you get the joy of doing masterful work and earning what you deserve.
When I launched my first company, a law practice, it was just me working solo with no support (and I had a house full of kids). I was a pretty good attorney, but always exhausted and stressed out. I was undercharging and overworking–neglecting my health, staying up late to do 'one more email' and working on weekends. Everything felt heavy, slow, and hard. But, once I raised my prices, everything shifted for me."
Finally, turn your back on self-sabotage and take daily, conscious actions toward your financial vision....
LJ: Any tried-and-true practices you have around supercharging your financial worth and building wealth?
Rodgers: "I instruct my clients to do a daily ritual called The Daily 7. It's a list of of actions you should take every day to generate more money and feel emotionally rich, too—rich in time, energy, peace, power, and joy. On my site, I've got a free Daily 7 guidebook available with details, examples, and a checklist to keep you on track. Go get yours! When women do The Daily 7 consistently, it's amazing how quickly things start to shift. Clients literally tell me, 'This changed my life and it’s only been a couple weeks!'"
You deserve a sneak peak, so here's the fifth step in Rodgers' Daily 7 ritual (careful; it's a loaded one): "Think million-dollar thoughts. Remind yourself that you are smart, resourceful, and capable of generating money."
©2022, Lacey Johnson, LJ Media, LLC
**No portion of this content is to be used without credit to its owner, and a link back to laceyjohnson.com.
**A previous version of this article was published to Lacey's former brand, The Wonder Report, in 2021.
Psst! Before you go, babe! If you're itching to continue this conversation, rehabilitate your beliefs around money, and build the kind of future that's only existed on your vision board–until now, grab my book, Radical Life Renovation: A Guided Program to Heal the Past, Reclaim Your Power & Build a Future You Love. It boasts a sanctuary of exercises, rituals, soulful stories and empowering science that'll unlock levels of confidence, determination and worthiness you may've never imagined possible.