Career Corner: The Art of Negotiating – Women and Negotiating Salaries

Women who fail to negotiate their salaries at the start of their careers could leave up to $2 million on the table over the lifespan of their careers.

By Pamela Antil, ACA – City of Santa Barbara, CA & President, League of Women in Government

Many people dread negotiations of any kind, but studies show that women find salary negotiations particularly challenging according to Linda Babcock, author of “Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation–and Positive Strategies for Change.” Unfortunately, women who fail to negotiate their salaries at the start of their careers could leave up to $2 million on the table over the lifespan of their careers.

Women are more apprehensive than men regarding negotiating and, as a result, do it far less. According to Babcok, 46% of men always negotiate salary following a job offer, compared to just 30% of women. And while 39% of men are apprehensive about negotiating, that number jumps to 55% for women. That being said, women may have good reason to be wary of negotiating. Women have to deal with the possibility of getting treated negatively when we do ask, since it breaks the stereotype of our gender, says Gloria Feldt, co-founder of the women’s leadership organization Take the Lead and author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. But when they do negotiate, studies show women are every bit as effective as men.

Additionally, women are sometimes held back financially because they are thought to not be as experienced as men due to the work assigned to them throughout their career. This is another area where learning to become a better negotiator at the beginning of one’s career can benefit you throughout your career.

To help women better position themselves for negotiating — whether for salary purposes or to get better assignments — the League will be doing a series of articles with tips and techniques to help local government women improve their skills by learning from other women in the field. This article is the first in our continuing series.


Today’s Negotiating Tips From

Deanna J. Santana, City Manager – Sunnyvale, CA

What techniques do you use when negotiating a higher salary with your boss/elected officials?

Deanna: Benchmark your salary (and its growth) with internal equity, external market comparibility, and CPI and be sure to evaluate salary within a total compensation framework. Press for a dialogue about the City Council’s compensation philosophy/framework and what can you expect for salary growth as an employee. Be ready to hear an answer that pleases you or that does not: don’t go into the conversation expecting one answer.  During these discussions, illustrate how you add value, stay professional, and, in an undesirable outcome situation, be prepared for a change if you feel your values are compromised or that there is no option for growth.

How have you been able to negotiate a great assignment/special project in your organization or past organization? What advice do you have to others who are ready for such an assignment, but don’t quite know how to get the assignment?

Deanna: Sit down with the person that you seek an assignment from, make yourself available to work on the assignment, and be open to working on it outside of your work duties. If you are asking for a project outside of your normal duties, it is good to demonstrate how much you want the opportunity to show your skills, flexibility, and willingness to grow.  Your interest is likely driven by an opportunity to work on an exciting project or to work with an individual from which you seek mentoring or to learn from.  Be clear about your expectations for learning and be even clearer about how it adds value for the person that is taking the risk on you.  Be ready to hear “not now” and push for the conversation of when the next opportunity presents itself, that you would like to be considered.  Gauge the person, adjust accordingly.  The “ask” is a reflection of your flexibility, communication strategy, applied skills, and your ability to lead from your current position.

Any other advice for women?

Deanna: Don’t overthink it, trust your gut! Be clear in your message and practice it out loud, so that you do not appear unprepared and learn to own you “voice” (message/position).  If it doesn’t work the first time, keep at it and self-reflect on what you can do better…..don’t give up, ask for honest feedback and be ready to hear the good and the bad, unfortunately.  Build a support group….don’t be afraid to express disappointment and look for the silver lining during the journey.


Deanna J. Santana  has over 20 years in public service and is the City Manager for the City of Sunnyvale (a major Silicon Valley city). Deanna has served as the City Administrator of Oakland and Deputy City Manager of San Jose.  Her appointment in Oakland made her the first Latina to have been appointed to manage a large U.S. city.  She is active in ICMA, has represented the profession internationally through the League of California Cities, a Board Director for ICMA-Retirement Corporation, and participates in various other professional organizations that promote local governance (Women Leading Government, MMANC, IHN, etc.). Deanna holds two Bachelor degrees from UC Berkeley, a Master in City Planning from MIT, and is active in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program.

About the City of Sunnyvale

Located at the heart of the Silicon Valley, the City of Sunnyvale is ranked 5th in Nation as “American Cities of the Future” by Foreign Direct Investment Intelligence, Financial Times and has ranked as the Nation’s Largest Tech Hub (San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara), by Forbes Magazine for many consecutive years. Sunnyvale is also ranked as America’s #1 Safest City, Smart Asset for the Safe City award, as reported by CBS News 2015.  Sunnyvale has world-recognized businesses such as: Google, Apple, Twitter, LinkedIn, NetApp, Juniper, Amazon, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, Yahoo, HP, Bloom Energy, Intuitive Surgical, Good Technology, and Synopsys.

Pamela Antil has over 25 years of experience directly managing and advising local government agencies across the country including small and large cities such as San Jose, CA, Ann Arbor, MI and Palo Alto, CA.  Currently, she is the Assistant City Administrator for the City of Santa Barbara, CA. Ms. Antil has been recognized for her published articles and papers on a variety of topics including advancing women in local government; the future of policing in the United States; business networking; innovation and design thinking; post-merger/operational due diligence in the private sector; and use of social media by local government. An avid networker herself and early adopter of social media in government, Ms. Antil founded the Municipal Managers group on LinkedIn in 2007, which has over 12,000 members today and the League of Women in Government in 2015, supporting the advancement of women in local government.

Pam is an active member of the International City/County Management Association, Cal-ICMA, Alliance for Innovation, Municipal Management Assistants of Northern & Southern California, BJA Executive Session on Police Leadership, Emerging Local Government Leaders as well as serves as Vice President for Women Leading Government CA and President of the League of Women in Government. She is a 2016 and 2017 ELGL Top 100 Influencer in Local Government Traeger Award winner. Pam has a Bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and a Master of Public Administration degree from California State University. She is the mother of two children, Sydney and Peyton, and she resides in Santa Barbara, California.

By |2018-02-14T02:15:54+00:00August 9th, 2017|Exclusives, Featured|0 Comments

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