Negotiating Salary and Equity as a Woman in Tech

We recently spoke with Niya Dragova, the Co-Founder at Candor, a platform supporting tech employees with making critical career finance decisions, about the importance of being able to confidently negotiate salary and equity as a woman in tech.

So, if you’re feeling confused about equity or need some tips on negotiating a salary you deserve, check out Niya’s exclusive advice for W.I.T. Republic members below.

Salary Negotiation

Why is salary negotiation such an important skill to master, particularly in tech roles?

Negotiation is the ultimate career skill and for me it goes well beyond compensation. Almost everything in your career hinges on how well you can advocate for yourself – from how much you get paid to how high you get promoted.

Negotiation can be hard to master because it can feel intimidating to stand out. In many cultures, such as where I come from, it’s thought of as impolite to ask for more. And societally, there is still a lot of stigma in negotiation between genders.

Harvard research suggests as many as 20% of women do not negotiate at all and those who do often face additional challenges. A recent Harvard study of women in a senior job roles suggests that women frequently face bias and are seen as “aggressive” for asking for more, even when it’s warranted. 

In addition to these challenges, in tech we face information asymmetry because a significant portion of our pay comes from equity. We receive very little information from recruiters on how to value stock and comparing offers between companies is complex.

This information gap disproportionately affects women and people of colour. Coupled with the biases we just discussed, this leads to a significant pay gap. The Wall Street Journal recently estimated the stock pay gap for women to be as large as 15-20%. This can equal millions in lost wages for a person over their lifetime.

Equity Negotiation 

In a 2020 study by Carta, on equity it was found that women earn less than half the equity that men do. Why do you think this might be? Could you give you advice to women looking to negotiate equity?  

There’s two major reasons:

  1. Women get hired as early employees in senior positions less frequently
  2. Women face bias in negotiation and a significant portion do not negotiate at all

The most important thing you can do for yourself if you work in tech is take the time to understand how equity works. There are some excellent resources out there, but I like to recommend the Holloway Guide for early companies and Candor has a guide on RSU compensation at public companies here.

Past that, getting good compensation data is crucial – salaries change fast so recency is very important. To that end, look for data from the last few months when possible. 

Lastly, having self-empathy is a crucial component of self-advocacy. It’s OK for negotiation to feel overwhelming at first; everyone goes through that. It’s important to acknowledge those feelings and lean into them.

Negotiation isn’t about forcing the other person to do what you want, it’s about building trust and helping them understand your situation so they can help bridge a gap for you. Saying something like this can be incredibly disarming and effective:  “Negotiation makes me nervous so I want to keep this process short. I’ve done a lot of research and I think $X is fair. That’s what I need to move forward with the offer.” 

If Niya’s blog has you interested in learning more about current tech job and salary trends, please contact us here.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for something new check out our job board here, apply for any roles that suit your needs and we’ll be in touch.

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