How to Close the Wage Gap

I'm not going to say that the inexcusable delta between women professionals' compensation and that of their male peers is entirely women's responsibility, but here's what the Harvard Program on Negotiation suggests at least part of cause for that delta among physicians is.

In the context of negotiation, professors John Rizzo of Stony Brook University and Richard Zeckhauser of Harvard University asked a group of young physicians about their reference groups and salary aspirations.

Male physicians compared themselves to reference groups that earned higher salaries than the ones female physicians selected.

In addition, men’s salary reference points were more indicative than women’s of how much they earned later.

Finally, women tend to compare themselves to particular individuals whom they know, while men tend to assess themselves according to information about typical behavior.

Here's a simple solution to this problem. Research your market value in your specialty in your geographic area on or If those resources aren't sufficient, pick up the telephone and make a few inquiries about compensation in your area.

Here's what I ask when I do this for clients.

Hi, I'm Vickie Pynchon. I'm a ___________ (attorney, author, consultant - whatever seems the best identity to get an answer to my question). I'm doing some market research on compensation for software designers/commercial litigators/OB-GYNs. Can you give me an idea of what people in that area with X years of experience are making/charging clients/etc.

Problem solved.

See how easy that was?