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Are Women Still Falling Short of Men's Earning Power?

Lindsay Olson

We've come a long way in the past few decades from when gender inequality in the workplace first became a hot talking point. But we haven't come far enough, according to Citi and LinkedIn's second annual Today's Professional Woman Report.

Closing the Gap

Women who are the breadwinners in their homes aren't making the same amount as male breadwinners. The report shows that while female breadwinners make about $35,000 more than their partners, male breadwinners make $49,000 more than their partners, a not-insignificant 42 percent gap.

But is it our own fault? The study also shows that only 25 percent of women asked for a raise in the last year. Since 75 percent of those who asked for a raise received one, there's just no excuse as to why more of us aren't asking.

It seems our confidence is affecting our ability to rise through the ranks, too. Fewer than four out of 10 women believe they will rise to a more senior position in their current companies. The reasons the other six are down on promotions? Women cited lack of opportunities for promotion, reluctance to take time away from their families or personal lives and not being interested in staying at their companies long enough to advance.

Tips for Asking for a Raise

If you're one of the women who isn't taking her destiny in her hands, give it a shot and ask for a raise. If it's earned, you may just find you join the ranks of the 75 percent of women who Citi and LinkedIn found asked and received a raise.

Just make sure you go into this conversation prepared:

--Make a list of everything you've accomplished since your last raise.

--Focus on numbers. Can you attribute an X percent increase in your company's bottom line to your work?

--Re-examine your job description to look for responsibilities you've taken on that are above and beyond.

--Schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss it; don't attack in between meetings.

Navigating a Career Change

The report also reveals women's three biggest work frustrations: not getting paid enough, office politics and being underutilized.

If you're fed up with not getting ahead, think before you leap. Plan out your exit from this role into another one carefully.

--If possible, stay at your current job until you find another. You'll need the financial security. It's almost always better to be employed and looking.

--Start networking far before you're desperate to leave, since building relationships that can help you find a job can take time.

--Update your LinkedIn profile and résumé. Make sure your LinkedIn profile has enough information so recruiters and companies may quickly find you.

In the Meantime, Get a Mentor

If you're not where you want to be professionally, consider finding a mentor who can advise you on where you should go next in your career. More women ages 22 to 34 have had a mentor (67 percent), while only 49 percent of those older than age 45 have had one. Realize that a mentor in your industry can share her own experiences and offer you priceless advice for getting ahead. You'll save yourself the headache of making the same mistakes someone else has, and it's always nice to have a sounding board for your ideas.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

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