Start Smart: What are women worth in the workplace?


Over their lifetime, women with college degrees may earn one to two million dollars less than male co-workers in the same position.
Female students gained negotiation and research skills to help them earn fair pay after graduation at Central Oregon Community College’s Start Smart workshop on April 26.
Women earn an unexplained seven percent less than the average male in the first year after graduation, according to Jane Lancaster, vice-president of American Association of University Women’s Oregon branch.
“Nobody is really sure why,” Lancaster said. “I hope we can do something about it.”

Nancy Thomas leads discussion of job availability for women in Central Oregon at Smart Start in Willie Hall. Photo by Megan Campbell | The Broadside

Women currently earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, according to Cynthia Rauscher, president AAUW of Oregon.
“The latest US Census shows that no progress has been made to close the wage gender gap,” Rauscher said, “which stands at 23 percent.”
The Start Smart workshop was led by members of AAUW and facilitated by COCC’s AAUW advisor and student activities coordinator, Taran Underdal.
During the workshop, volunteers practiced negotiating for a higher salary in a pretend job offer scenario. Attendees were encouraged not to be the first one to name a dollar amount during an interview.
“You really want to put your best face forward,” Lancaster said.
The “Women Are Getting Even” project was introduced at the workshop by AAUW member, Nancy Thomas.
“Before you are getting ready to negotiate for a job,” Thomas said, “use this tool.”
The site allows job-seekers to calculate what their job is worth and access average earnings based on job description and location. More information can be found at
Not everyone who attended the workshop fit the recent graduate mold. Former student and small business owner, Luisa Hernández, attended the workshop to learn negotiation skills she could bring to the daycare she runs at home.
“This workshop makes you feel confident, like your job is valuable,” Hernández said, “that you really are worth it.”

–Megan Campbell

The Broadside



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