Tag Archives: women

Lean In: Becoming a Better Leader by Leading

One of my colleagues I greatly respect shared a valuable piece of advice with me earlier this month: you don’t get to become a manager by asking to be a manager. You get to become a manager when you show you can manage. Just do it.

This colleague is exactly my age, at my supposed ranking of seniority in the company (title-wise) and yet he has two direct reports. I, on the other hand, have none. And, as I told him, if for some reason we both had to leave our current positions today, he’d be set up for a VP-level role at another company (or at least one at the same level) whereas I’d have difficulty securing a position at my level due to not having direct management experience.

But that’s not the real reason I want to manage. I’m at a time in my life and career where I have ideas on how to move the needle that are bigger than what one person can do. I also want to learn how to be a good manager, but it’s so challenging as I wasn’t brought up in the most socially normal family and my general “how to relate to other people sense” is always lacking. I’m really working on that, and hopefully it shows. I figure I’ll always be ADHD and sometimes not think before I talk completely, but as long as I keep a positive attitude and am not afraid to be relentlessly enthusiastic, it will get me somewhere in life. Well, it’s gotten me where I am today to a point. Still, I’m no cheerleader. Continue reading Lean In: Becoming a Better Leader by Leading

Vibrators are Too Expensive (and they break easily)

I once spent $100 on a vibrator. It was a glorious instrument of pleasure, to say the least. At first glance, the purple translucent dong filled with “pearls” and adorning an attached rabbit head made me think of anything but sexy. Turned off, it looked like a foolish child’s toy meant to be fetched in the deep end of a pool. Turned on, it sounded like a continuous fart meets an earthquake.

But then, as bunny ears blurred into ecstasy via vibration, despite the symphony of mechanical buzzing, I couldn’t help but revel in my overpriced lump of plastic.

A few months later, my beautiful toy broke.

“Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!” I screamed.

(Well, I didn’t actually scream that, but I like the sound of it for dramatic effect.)

I couldn’t run off to purchase another $100 vibrator. Besides, by that point I found myself a boyfriend and I felt he ought to replace my purple friend.

But, come on, can a boyfriend really work such magic?

I searched the Internet and local sex stores (which make me feel totally awkward btw — either they’re meant for dirty old men, or they’re designed like mini museums for women and gay men seeking out their masterpiece butt plug) and spent another $30 here and there trying to buy something cheap that would do the trick. I learned quickly that in the world of sex toys, the pricetag matters.

So… I called out my inner child… the one who discovered the wonders of the waterhead massager in the shower and the amazing vibrations of an electric shaver once the blade had been removed. Oh, and yes, the joys of the electric toothbrush, sans bristled head. Those were the days when in order to get off, money was not an issue. It was my fingers or whatever object I could find that would vibrate.

(Don’t tell me I’m the only girl out there who went through that “phase.”)

Since I wasn’t going to spend another $100 on a vibrator that would break in a few months, I instead went to the local drug store and bought myself an electric shaver for 5 bucks. And you know what? It was heaven. It wasn’t exactly the purple phallus of joy I had spent my money on during college, but it worked.

Moral of the story is… I highly recommend that when you have the money, you should try a quality sex toy at least once in your life. But if you’re in the mood for some self-pleasing fun and you don’t have a few hundred dollars a month set aside for a special “masturbation budget,” there are plenty of cheaper items you can use. Get creative! Just be sure to properly clean said item(s) in order to avoid icky bacteria infections. Store-bought sex toys are often designed to be cleaned easily, so you might have to spend extra time on the cleansing portion of your, uh, alone time.

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Dating: Who Pays?

A few years back, I had just graduated from college and was a full-time intern (aka slave) with a decent amount of savings (savings=for grad school one day) and a boyfriend who had started his six-figure attorney job the same year (note: he graduated from law school with no student loans thanks to his mom and dad and some savings). At that point, we were together for over a year. I had spent hundreds of dollars on plane tickets flying around the country to see him, as we had met in one city, then spent a good chunk of our relationship long distance.

Given, I’m not the type of girl who expects men to pay for her, one of the reasons our relationship ended was that I could not stand his stinginess. I know I wasn’t broke, but it would have been nice for him to offer to pay for a movie ticket every once in a while. I felt like I was holding him back from the life he could have, since it wouldn’t kill his piggy bank to go wine tasting once a month, or enjoy a decadent meal every once in a while. There’s nothing wrong with avoiding pricier options, but at the time, well, every cent counted. Really.

Now I’m in the reverse situation. It’s kind of funny, actually. I’m dating a guy who is unemployed. He does have a savings (from my understanding of it, he has just about the amount I have in savings) and he lives at home (so no rent, whereas I pay $1050 a month in rent.) Supposedly his parents are footing the bill for grad school if he decides to go. (My parents are not, as far as I know, though my dad has mentioned that in 3 years when he can access his 401k, there will be some money available to help out if I can wait that long.)

(Anyway… the details are rather unimportant as a generic entry about who pays for things in a relationship, but as this is my personal finance blog, I’m writing details. Hope y’all don’t mind.)

So guy #2 loves to pay for me 75 percent of the time. We go out to dinner and he often offers. He let’s me pay occasionally. I don’t push him enough because in the back of my mind I’m always thinking, if he pays, that’s another $15 I can pocket for grad school… or a new shirt. It feels rather icky to be the stingy person in the relationship. Sometimes I feel like I should pay more frequently since I’m working and he’s not. Then again, it’s his personal choice to be unemployed (he has a degree from a top school, I doubt he’d have much trouble getting a job) and if he wants to pay for me than who am I to object? Plus he’s got his parent’s money for grad school and if I actually ever figure out what I want to do with my life for the long-term, I’ll need to foot most of my bill for all graduate school fees.

Obviously I’m not talking about the first couple of dates here. That’s the subject for a whole other entry because at that point there’s somewhat of a societal expectation for the man to offer, even if the woman ultimately is sane enough to grab the check and split the bill fairly. But for people in LTR’s, money is a whole other issue.

Sometimes, I admit, I dream of dating someone (*cough*gold digger*cough*) who takes me out to nice places and… takes me shopping. It’s ridiculous, as I’m NOT a gold digger. Really. I wouldn’t date someone just because they were rich. It’s just a nice thought, since life out here in Silicon Valley is so damn pricey and everyone else around here seems to be loaded.

To tell you the truth, I’d rather be the one making the big bucks. I doubt that will ever happen as a journalist, even though I’ve managed to do quite well for myself in the generally poor-paying profession. But I’m not going to kid myself into thinking I’d ever be looking at a six-figure salary. It might be possible if some day I make a name for myself and start my own website, but I’m not going to start dreaming about that now. Reality is I’m making an OK salary, but I’m living in one of the richest counties in the country…

[[The median income for a household in the county was $70,819, and the median income for a family was $80,737. Males had a median income of $51,342 versus $40,383 for females.]]

Ok, so in a few week’s I’ll be making more than the median income for females. That still means nothing (considering that my life involves interacting with venture capitalists and other well-to-do types)… and while I know money does not equal happiness, there’s always the underlying fear of taking out loans for grad school and having to deal with debt (the “good kind”) and then never being able to afford a house or any other form of stability in my life.

It’s all kind of hypocritical of me, since I’m terrible at saving, and I always end up spending too much each month. Why does it matter if I spend too much on a shirt versus a nice date with my boyfriend? It’s probably better to spend that $70 on a date.

The Cost of Being Female

In 2005, 20-something females in the U.S. made $25k on average, where men in the same age group made $29k (according to an Analysis of Integrated Public MicroData Census Samples.)

Before getting off into my own analysis on the high costs of being female, I wanted to point out this rally interesting post by Andrew Beveridge over at GothamGazette.com… “No Quick Riches for New York’s Twentysomethings”

One interesting factoid from the article’s accompanying charts is that 35.6 percent of female’s surveyed about their pay in 2005 had a college degree, whereas only 22.7 percent of men completed any form of higher education. Yet men still make more money. Except in New York, where it looks like females are actually making more than men. I’m raising my glass to the gals in New York who obviously are asking for what they want and getting it. For the rest of us ladies, we still have some catching up to do.

Therefore, I find it kind of ironic that the costs of being a woman are (almost) inherently so much more expensive than being a man… or are they?

Women spend money on…

Makeup, Tampons/Pads, Fashionable Clothing, Shoes, Birth Control Pills, Shavers (which need to be replaced more often because shaving legs kills blades fast), Waxing, Hair (cut, dye, highlight), Nails (manicure, pedicure), and the list goes on and on and on…

I’m sure some men (i’m talking straight men here) would say either they end up spending just as much money taking women out to dinner (if they are the type that pays for their date) or maybe they’re even full-blown metrosexuals who splurge on $200 jeans and a $150 shirt, along with a masculine eyebrow grooming session. But broken down to the bare minimum requirements of being female versus male in a normal position at a typical job with a regular life, the cost of being female has got to be more than the cost of being male.

My boyfriend wears the same exact outfit everyday. He wears a button-down black shirt with black pants. Given, this is not typical male behavior, but it isn’t really that odd for a guy to chose to avoid fashion and instead buy $20 pairs of black pants and somewhat cheap black shirts, and there’s a few year’s worth of clothing.

Could a woman really get away with wearing the same exact outfit every day? I imagine others would find her more weird than they would the guy. Meanwhile, women also are expected to spend some money on makeup. Not all women HAVE to spend money on makeup, but when you go on a job interview, a woman looks more professional with some foundation, blush and lip gloss, eyeliner and mascara. Total cost? Anywhere from $30 to $200+, depending on brand selection.

What do men spend money on? If they’re not into fashion, they can get away with spending on maybe four nice suits that will last them for years. Ties are pricey, I guess, but how many ties does the typical guy own? My ex-boyfriend, who is a lawyer making a six-figure salary, spends barely nothing on clothes. He buys a sweater or new shirt here and there, but otherwise his wardrobe has pretty much remained constant. But men aren’t expected to have good fashion sense. They’re also not told by the media day in and day out that they’re ugly and need to spend gadzillions of dollars to be presentable.

I’m interested in hearing your feedback on this topic. Do women really spend a lot more than men on a yearly basis, or am I imagining things?

Women Don’t Negotiate = Women Make Less Money.

I got a new job. I can’t go into details on here regarding what that job entails, as I don’t want to blow my thinly-veiled cover (to those who know me, it’s impossible for me to blog without giving away who I am.) Needless to say, the position is 99 percent of the way to dream job, and I’m really proud of myself for somehow falling into the opportunity.

The focus of this entry is not my new job, persay, but my terror of negotiating and my delight in figuring out that I can get what I want in a negotiation without feeling guilty.

The day of my meeting to negotiate terms of my new job, I spent all my free time scouring the Internet for advice on how to approach any likely scenerio. I took my current job with absolutely no negotiation, and while I don’t regret it (the job was worth more to me than a few thousand more dollars at the time, when my lack of full-time experience made it painfully difficult to get a job at all), it does suck being stuck at my entry-level salary a year later. Between the company struggling financially and my inability to be brilliant in their eyes, I lost the opportunity to be promoted five months into the gig. And since then, I haven’t even dared to ask. I’ve been working my ass off and I’m pretty sure I’ve been earning my keep, to say the least. It has just become increasingly clear to me that in order to be valued as I ought to be, I need to move elsewhere.

So I applied for dozens of positions and even got offers for a few, but ultimately turned them down. They all paid more than my current gig, but I decided while I’d like a fatter paycheck, salary isn’t the only thing that would get me to make the leap to a new position. I’m picky. And I really wanted to find a job where I knew I would feel like I’d be able to give just as much as I take, if not more.

Found that job, or so it seems. I had no idea what the salary would be. It’s one of those Web 2.0 jobs where there’s no pre-defined standard for base salary at any level. It’s a guessing game for all involved, to be determined based on either my former salary or my current and potential value.

The one strict rule in negotating, it seems, is that you’re not supposed to note your current salary at any point. Nor should you bring up a number first. In my situation, I was practically forced to put a number out there. I blurted out a range, which was higher than what I’m making now but not entirely ridiculous. The low point in the range was what I figured I should be making at my current job if I was in a company that actually paid attention to the growth of its employees and wanted to reward them for their hard work. The high of the range, $5k more, was what I’d like to be making, even though I didn’t think that was really possible.

Side story…

The other day I met up with a young woman who used to intern with me at a community newspaper. She graduated a year after me (I was interning the year after I graduated, while she was graduating that year with a degree in journalism.) Turns out, she hated the internship (and seemingly journalism as a whole, but maybe it was just the internship.) So the other day we re-connected on Linked In and it turned out she was working in a PR office a few towns over. So we decided to meet up for lunch.

We talked a lot about issues of age, salary, and feeling like being taken advantage of at work (mostly due to our age.) Turns out that her salary, surprisingly enough, was $3k less than what I’m currently making. She was frustrated with her job, mostly because of the pay – I’d imagine mind numbing PR work without a rewarding salary would get old fast. We’ve both been in our positions a year now, even though I’m officially two years out of school and she’s just marking her one year anniversary of graduation.

She took such a low salary without negotiating at first because she needed the experience as well, but likely she could have gotten her base pay up to that $35k figure that seems to be standard for entry-level corporate or agency work (unless you’re a software engineer or something). Now she’s stuck. She could ask for a raise, but the raise would bring her up to what she should have started at a year ago.

Back to the main story…

Negotiation is an amazing tool when used properly. It’s amazing what you can get just by asking. Women are taught to make other’s happy, to be people pleasers (at least most of us are) so negotiation seems like a painful experience. Aren’t they offering me what’s in my best interest? Not likely. It turns out that men often think of their own interests first, whereas women are the opposite. So a man will low-ball a salary and expect the other person to negotiate. If the other person is a man, chances are he would negotiate for a higher salary or at least better benefits. If the other person is a women, it’s questionable if she’ll say “Ok” or go with the great tactic… “hmmmmm…”

But I’m living proof that it can’t hurt to ask. At the start of the negotation process, I was given a salary quote, which was the lowest number I had noted in my range at my first interview. While I could have taken that and been happy with it, I felt like that was a little low considering my additional commute time for this new job and all the added responsibility. I was thinking of asking for $2k more, but I realized if I did that, then he might pick a number in between the two, and I’d end up with only $1k more. So instead I mustered up all my courage and pushed the number up $5k. It was quite a nervewracking moment. I was waiting for him to say no. He almost said no. Then he said, “done.”

Moral of the story – female or male, but especially female, make sure to ask for what you want when you’re negotiating. It might make sense to accept what’s offered to you for your first job out of college, but even then most people respect a little negotiation initative. Afterall, business – whether it’s working for a giant corporate company as a sales rep, or as a development associate at a non-profit, is ALL about negotation. And if you can’t ask for what you want when it comes to your livelihood, what’s to say you would be able to do it on a daily basis to help your company get ahead?