RSS Feed

Gimme Gimme I’m Worth It, or, The Gender Gap & Getting Paid to Write

Gimme Gimme I’m Worth It, or, The Gender Gap & Getting Paid to Write

The other day I was jamming out to that catchy song by Fifth Harmony, “Worth It.” You know the one: “give it to me I’m worth it, baby I’m worth it.  Uh huh I’m worth it, gimme gimme I’m worth it.”

“What do they want to be given?” my husband asked, “money?”

“Yeah, probably.”  I was about to say something about how the song was crass, but then I changed my mind. With all the recent talk about the gender pay gap, shouldn’t women be singing about their worth?

"Worth It" by Fifth Harmony. See the video here.

“Worth It” by Fifth Harmony. See the video here.  photo credit.

I recently started doing manuscript consulting. When I told my friends what I was thinking of charging, they were horrified. “Eva, you are worth more than that. You have an advanced degree and years of experience. You need to value yourself more.” They suggested a different, higher number, for me to charge.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I feel bad asking for that much.”

But why?

Daniel and Eva. Daniel writes the blog The Incompetent Writer.

Daniel and Eva. Daniel writes the blog The Incompetent Writer.

Recently, my friend Daniel Wallace, who writes the excellent blog The Incompetent Writer, started a Patreon page so his readers can support him monetarily. Right now he’s up to six patrons for a total of twenty dollars a month, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s pretty exciting since, for years, he’s been doing this for free.

“Eva, you should consider doing a Patreon page for your blog,” his wife, Jeni, told me.

“Nah.  I would feel weird asking people for money.”

After all, I write this blog because I want to, not because I expect to be paid for it. This is the same reason why I write novels: because I love it, because it’s the only thing I want to do with my life. Of course, I am hoping to one day make money from my writing…

***

The other day, my friend Cari Mollen posted something on her facebook page that I thought was really powerful:

Early in my career I was being paid 60% of what my male coworkers were making, and I had no clue. I’m grateful to this day that over drinks one evening they shared what they were being paid. Without their openness, I would not have realized I was underpaid and likely would not have had the very difficult conversation with my boss that ultimately resulted in a substantial raise.

This is a complicated issue. I don’t believe that my employer was intentionally paying me less because I was a woman. In fact, I was satisfied with my salary until I found out how much less it was than others. Why should my employer have paid me more if I was willing to work for less? Of course, once I had the right information, I wasn’t willing anymore.

[My friend] recommended the excellent book Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock to me when I was dealing with this, and it was immensely helpful to me. Yet I still struggle with negotiating and asking for what I want. It feels uncomfortable. I worry about how I will be perceived (and I don’t think it’s a baseless worry – women are judged differently from men for the same actions in the workplace). And sometimes I wonder, why does it seem like the narrative is women needing to learn to be more like men instead of the other way around?

I have full confidence that we will continue to move toward a time when there will be no gender gaps (pay or other). More transparency is a key step in getting us there.

 

This struck a chord with me. Not so much about the gender pay gap (although I’m sure that exists in the publishing world, just like everywhere else.) Instead it was the idea of being willing to work for less. Of not knowing your own worth. Or not believing in it.  And of course, the title of that book:  Women Don’t Ask (which I now want to read).  It’s true — I have trouble asking for what I want, especially when that something is money.

Money is a complicated topic, especially when you’re doing something that you want to be doing anyway. I am writing for free already, so why should someone pay me to do it? Well, because I’m worth it, that’s why.

To be honest, I’m still not ready to ask for money to write this blog, but this is something for me to ponder, especially now that I’m getting paid to teach writing classes and read manuscripts.  I need to believe that I’m valuable and deserve compensation for my time — even if it’s something I already enjoy doing.  Then, once I believe in my own worth, I need to work up the courage to ask for what I want.

“Give it to me, I’m worth it.  Uh huh I’m worth it.  Gimme gimme I’m worth it.”  But maybe not in those exact words.

 

Advertisements

About evalangston

Eva Langston is a writer, among other things.

2 responses »

  1. Hi Eva! I liked reading this — troubling — post. I think that failing to ask for enough is a problem for a lot of writers / editors. We seem to fear rejection and being exposed as a imposter, a fraud, more than architects or actuaries ever seem to. It’s nebulous how much we’re worth, because everyone uses language, so everyone is already an amateur at what we do: in such a situation, women (and writers of colour and other unfairly disadvantaged people) surely experience those doubts — and possibly suffer the consequences of ignoring them — with a harsher sting.

    For myself, I actually felt sick the whole day I posted my request for readers to support my blog. I published the announcement post and felt nauseous in my stomach, terrified. I had to text friends, ask if I had done something awful and stupid. I couldn’t stop hearing voices telling me I had ruined the blog, that the readers I had built up over years of writing would immediately leave in disgust. Other, more crafty voices said that I had done the right thing, but that I had simply done it in the wrong way, somehow, and that wrong-ness would be obvious to all.

    Even this morning, I thought about including a link to my “support me” post at the bottom of my newest piece and didn’t, feeling like people would be revolted. (And it should have been easy for someone like me. I can only try to imagine how much harder it would be were I not a man, not able-bodied, not possessing a cool accent etc.)

    I do think you should think about a Patreon page, though, in the future. I don’t think it’s really about the money: it’s about motivation. Blogging felt completely different, even when I was at $1 of support.

    Now I think to myself “I’m at $20. If I can write some ready good posts, I’ll be at $30.” That brings a new level of excitement to the blog. And the support, however small in the grand scheme of the world, helps quell the same doubts that made asking for money so hard.

    Reply
    • We are undervalued — believe me that I know from whence I speak on this, as a screenwriter in a systemically broken Hollywood — and will continue to be until we start setting new standards for ourselves and demand that those be acknowledged and respected. I second Daniel’s position on this matter and commend his courage; he has taken a bold step in the direction of newfound self-worth. Take pride in what you’ve initiated, sir; enjoy the satisfaction that comes from having the mettle to respect yourself.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: