On Being a Woman and Negotiating Salary

I originally posted this to a different blog of mine, rather than my more visible one here, because this is such an awkward topic. Honestly, I’m afraid of being shamed (“It’s your own fault you’re not getting paid fairly – you never asked!” sort of thing), but I think that it’s also important to get my own point of view out there – especially for other women just starting out and who, like me, have no professional mentors to guide them.

After hearing an article on NPR about how Reddit was doing away with salary negotiations in an attempt to remove the pay gap, for the first time I asked myself the question, “…Does everybody negotiate their salary, every time?” — I had never negotiated a salary for myself; it hadn’t occurred to me that it was perhaps ubiquitous, something that you just did as part of your professional life.

So, I asked a question on my Facebook wall, regarding being a woman software developer and not knowing how to negotiate. I did receive some good advice from friends and acquaintances, so I’d like to post it for others to benefit from.


Rachel

I’ve never negotiated a salary when first starting a job. [I’ve been working professionally for 6 years as a software/web developer.] I honestly don’t know what I would negotiate for.

West coast job? $100,000 sounds sufficient, if that is what the company glassdoor page says is the average. Or am I supposed to go “no, I need $X more.” — and is that X = 1k? 5k? 10k? Etc.  It is also hard to judge because the Midwest average is so much lower.

Usually I’m just happy enough to get the offer. At the same time, I feel like I’m failing because the stereotype is that women *don’t* negotiate. Do ALL men negotiate their starting salary??

I’ve ASKED for raises at the first two of my jobs and that didn’t go over well, so I haven’t asked any more, but how often are you supposed to ask for one? Yearly?

This is something that really bugs me and I don’t know what to do.

Senta

That’s a really good set of questions, Rachel.

First off, do your research, both on Glass Door and every other site you can find. Remember that education, experience, relocation, benefits and other factors play into what you could expect.

As a rule of thumb, I’d advise you to ask for 10-15% more than they offer on principal. Even if they don’t budge on their offer, they’ll know you’re not afraid to ask. And you may be pleasantly shocked when they agree to pay more- perhaps not the full amount you asked for, but negotiating is empowering.

Long ago, someone told me that money is about respect. Get into the good habit of knowing what you’re worth. Another way of looking at this… How much would they offer/pay a man with identical education & experience? And don’t take less. Go get ’em!!

Thomas

I’ve found that whatever offer I’ve made, the company has countered with slightly less. I usually go with the average for the job, +20% because I have documentation to back up that i’m in the 90th percentile (and I’m lucky to be very good at interviewing, having been a workaholic).

Rachel

OK, when I’m offered a job, usually it’s over the phone, and I ask for a couple of days to make a decision. At what point, and HOW, do I say, “I want $X more than your offer.” ?

Senta

“I’ve had time to reflect upon your offer. I’d like to join XYZ company and I bring a lot to the table. The salary I had in mind for this position is in the X to Y range.” Then give them a chance to think about it.

If they flat-out refuse to negotiate and tell you to take it or leave it, spend a little time thinking about it. Don’t just give them a yes-or-no on the spot. Even if they indicate they can’t go higher, let ’em stew for a bit.

THIS is what generally makes women uncomfortable and why we’re perceived as poor negotiators: our inner feelings of insecurity and that we have to be nice. Guys don’t play that game- and we need to stop undermining ourselves.

Abbey

I have used getraised.com as a reference point. I like it because it gives you a bell curve based on title, location and your experience.


Oh, and since Abbey brought up getraised, I checked it out, for myself. Here are the results (I’m not squeamish about discussing my salary, btw):

raise

Makes me feel like a shmuck.

I guess the moral of the story is – nobody is going to give you fair pay out of the kindness of their heart; even if you’re not a very assertive person, you really have no choice but to demand fairness. Another good idea is, starting out, really try to find some professional women to associate with, to give you advice. I certainly did not have this.

Now I’m really depressed.


Additional Reading:

Douglas G

I would be greatly honored of THE (pronounced with a long e) Rachel Morris would write me a congratulatory letter.

Usually they tell Eagle Scouts to e-mail politicians and such, but I wanted to request people who left a lasting impact on my life. I do not think I would have developed such an interest in computer science if it had not been for your awesome community outreach on youtube and your moosader website.  
I still remember looking at the alien lawnmower game in awe of how young you were when you first started and how far you have come. Your art is incredible and your sprites for some reason always always always put a smile on my face- from the tiny evergreen trees to the iconic knight-Rachel on the trusty steed sticking out its tongue.  

I thank you so much for sharing your knowledge on your videos and website, and I would greatly appreciate a congratulatory letter from you.”


Request for ‘Eagle Scout’ congratulatory letter from Douglas G.

The Magic of SDL

For a while, it felt like C++ was falling behind in usefulness, when it came to indie game development. With my C++ games, I’d have to compile for Windows, Linux, and OSX (or rely on someone else to build for OSX for me), but games that could be played in a browser, or on a phone, had some advantage – easier to play and easily portable for Web, more ubiquitous marketplace for mobile.

Over the past two or three years I’ve experimented with game-dev using something other than C++. I wrote a few games with Java and LibGDX, I made some browser-based games with JavaScript and the HTML5 canvas, and I’ve published a few small applications using Lua and the Gideros framework.

Since then, SDL2 has come out. And, while Gideros has actually been a joy to use, Gideros does not currently offer support to export for Desktop, and I would like to be able to offer some of my apps for more than just Android.

Looking at SDL2, it looks like you can have it all now – Cross-platform PC, iOS, Android, and if you’re using something emscripten, you can even build your C++/SDL game into a JavaScript/Canvas project.

So, finally, it seems as if I could possibly have my cake and eat it, too.  When I’m programming for myself, I want it to be in a language I enjoy, and I want to be writing software and games that I care about – otherwise, why would I do it in my free time?

I am currently working on writing a framework on top of SDL for use with my PC/Mobile games – I will be reworking Pickin’ Sticks LXXIV, Dolphin & Kitten, and Fantazio de Esperanto to all be using this new framework, and they will be extended and, hopefully during the year, completed. I’m excited!

The Problem with Video Game Character Creators

For video games where you build your own character, why does it only give you the option of “male” or “female” to choose from?

The first character creator that stood out to me, honestly, was in My Sims, an adequate Wii game spin-off of The Sims. You create your character in it, but you don’t assign any gender – you have access to all options in the editor.  Of course, all the characters are chibi so there isn’t really a “body type” difference in the characters you see around town, so why bother having that constraint?

But what if more games did that? Even if you did have different body-types, why not have all the options available, and not have to assign a gender? The lead character is usually addressed by their name anyway, and the Singular They could be used when your character isn’t directly being addressed.

I’ve had some people just recently argue with me about how “Singular They” is an abomination to the English language and that they refuse to use it, however. (Really? English? English itself is an abomination…) So I have a different suggestion for your character creators to get around this.

Don’t assign gender to your character in a character-creator. Assign pronouns.

The programming is not going to be much different from switching between he/she in the dialogue. You could store variables to be swapped out based on the pronouns. (He Him His – She Her Hers – They Them Theirs – and so on).

But that doesn’t go far enough – since these values are going to be stored in variables anyway, why not allow the user to type in their own pronouns?  Just have them enter in the three-or-so variations of the pronoun that shows up in the given language.

pronounbox

Many games allow the user to type in their own name – so give it a try, let people enter their own pronouns. Let people choose any option in the character editor.

Update, February 19th

I recently watched a GiantBomb Quick Look for Sunless Sea, and during the character creation process, I saw that they ask the question, “What term of address do you prefer ashore?” with options like “Madam”, “Sir”, “Citizen”, and more, which is a nice, story-integrated way to deal with this.

address

You can check out Sunless Sea’s official webpage here.

Do you know any other games that do this?

La Ido Linguo and Sharing it with Others

quoesasito

Esperanto has a problem with branding. Can Ido be a blank slate for introducing others to Auxiliary languages?

Most people who have already heard of Esperanto, regard it with disdain, for some reason. I think part of the problem is that they see it as egotistical for one man to invent a language. Some people are a bit more familiar with Esperanto than just the ‘synopsis’, and their dislike of Esperanto comes from run-ins with Esperantistoj, who come off as pushy and defensive. (This, I think, is mainly because there’s a few myths about Esperanto that everybody brings up, and we’re tired of hearing it, so we get exasperated. Nobody listens to us! :P)

So, Esperanto has a branding problem. However, Ido does not. This is partially because almost nobody knows what Ido is.

Ido is more of a tabula rasa at this point. Yes, there are few speakers of Ido, and nobody knows what it is, but that can make it a building point.

I also think that telling people what Ido is would go over a bit better – Oh, a committee of people put together this language! Somehow sounds more scientific and thought-out than just some random man.

You still have the problem of the over-European influences on the language, even more so than Esperanto it seems like, but since nobody knows Ido to begin with, it’s about “marketing” that as a strength. Perhaps not jumping right into the “Fina Venko”, “This is a global second language for everybody” pitch. (Does Ido even have a “Fina Venko”? I’m not that close to Ido culture).

You also have the advantage of Ilu Elu Olu. People new to Ido won’t find the same fighting going on over the Esperanto -iĉ, gender neutrality, and so on. Some people, who would otherwise be interested in learning Esperanto, can run into this early on and leave – not because it’s being discussed, but because of the hate that gets spewed when it is discussed. Alienating people who voluntarily come to the language is not the way to spread your language!

I, myself, kabeis (left the Esperanto world) several times, but eventually came back because it was fundamentally a fun thing for me. I just learned which communities to avoid. ;P

Minor pluses include lack of hats – strange and different, hard-to-type (relatively) characters are intimidating! And perhaps lack of accusative – though, really kids, the accusative isn’t a difficult concept to grasp. I had trouble with it at first, too, but it’s really not difficult. ;P

So what do you think?  If you’re an Esperantist, do you think that Ido is worth a shot? (I mean, you already know Esperanto, how much more work would it be to learn Ido?)

Would it be worth it to be a part of and build the Ido community?

My Ido website is here: http://niaido.moosader.com/

And if you’d like to be part of a chatroom, there is #NiaIdo on Freenode. You can connect via the web through this link.


Some input from my friend Tea (with formatting/grammatical fixes):

As a long time Ido learner, I think that Ido has both a disadvantage and an advantage. That is: It is not well-known.

How’s that good?

Well, Esperanto community is already as big as it is but it’s also very crystallized. It is not flexible at all. Now, Ido is a very beautiful language and it fixes and improves a lot of Esperanto flaws (Call it flaws, call it features) although that depends on your taste. Ido has a chance of not learning of the mistakes of the past and to grow up and mature (both physically and actually the community feels very cozy because is not as big as Esperanto’s).

I always saw Esperanto and Ido as two languages that can live together, that could even merge into one or even many languages (which would be really cool). Maybe they are not as close as dialects but they are two really close languages one to the other.

I saw other communities of not-known-languages that are really cool they are so flexible, so collaborative, they care about newcomers and about making the language grow and not bashing people for “not using it properly” and to see people speaking different languages, understanding each other and going towards the same goal is simply marvellous.

Because what I hate the most is to be new at something and have a bunch of smart-asses bashing me instead of helping me.

Inspiro

Only available in Esperanto

Languages, Text Parsers, and Video Games

I can speak English and Esperanto. I’ve started learning a handful of other languages, though I tend to have a hard time sticking with one. Oddly, sticking with Esperanto is easy, perhaps because I already have communities I’m part of, and uses for it, while with other languages – say, Korean – I really only get to use it at the nearby Korean grocery store.

But, I’ve decided to start learning Chinese. I decided that a couple of weeks ago, but so far I haven’t done much studying yet, just skimming pieces here and there. Do I start with reading on grammar? Do I start by studying Pinyin? Do I start by learning the building blocks of the writing system? Hm.

I’m a bit restless when it comes to sticking with a single textbook, and I want to start using the language as soon as I can, so then – do I memorize phrases and investigate how words are put together?

I began compiling a list of the verbs, nouns, and adjectives I find myself using the most in Esperanto. It’s hard to really quantify what English I use in my day-to-day life because it’s so engrained, but that’s one of the good things about being familiar with Esperanto – I have more of an explicit idea of what I’ve learned over the past three years, so it could perhaps be a blueprint of what I would need to learn for another language.

Building this list of words and common ways I end up combining them actually reminds me of writing a text parser for a text adventure (or something like the old King’s Quest games).  Actually – wouldn’t it be kind of fun to learn some basics of language through mixing and matching verbs and nouns together to interact with a virtual environment? (OK, maybe it appeals to me because I grew up with Sierra adventures…)

Though a problem with this method of “learning the patterns and extrapolating from there” would be more difficult for an irregular language, when you can’t always be sure that it will be something like “Verb-command-form [the] noun”

On a similar note – games can be a great way to give a controlled, somewhat immersive experience. If designed properly, a whole game could be in the target language, while not overwhelming the player with more nuanced parts of grammar.

If I pick up a new multiplayer game, for example, I pretty much always want to play Single Player first to get a feel for the maps, weapons, gameplay, etc. Similarly, I am going to be pretty shy when it comes to actually practicing a new language, I want a “safe sandbox” to practice in first.

And, with respect to old Sierra and LucasArts games, I know that I, personally, have heard a number of non-native-English speakers say that those games were a big part of how they learned English.

So, what might be a good way to apply language learning in a game medium? What games have done this, and done a decent job? Hmmm…

Donated Books, Magazines, and Newsletters in and about Esperanto

Just this past December, I had decided to make a group on Facebook for Esperantists in Kansas and Missouri. I knew there were at least five of us in Kansas – Two in Wichita, three in Kansas City. I made it mostly as a way for us to get to know each other and keep in touch.

For Z-Day 2014, Andy and I decided that we should have a get-together at a local restaurant & pub, The Green Room. So, we proceeded to send out messages on Lernu, and the existing circle of us five brought in any others we knew about. I’m a member of Esperanto-USA, so I went through the little directory book and sent out messages inviting anyone interested to stop in.

And now, we’re going to start having regular monthly meetings. Wow.

Tim Wand, an Esperantist that I found out of the directory book, has been in the movado for a while, and has some interesting stories to tell about the history here in the U.S.A. He has also donated quite a few old books to the club, which originally belonged to a Mr. Runser, who passed away perhaps a decade ago.

I only began learning Esperanto in 2012, so I’m not completely sure what the best thing I can do with these books is, but I’m hoping to go through them and, for anything that is in the public domain, make scans and publish online somewhere.

I took pictures of the collection tonight, and I’m posting them up; perhaps it will pique somebody’s interest, and they’ll have a suggestion for me.

*edit* I scanned the covers of all the books, and they can be viewed on the Library page.

Ruben

Hi! I just wanted to let you know that in my game development course in UPC (Spain) our teacher shared your website to us. Thank you for your work!”

– Ruben

Rejcx vs. Moosader

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What is going on?

Maybe you’ve passively noticed weird things going on with my username in IRC, or Twitter, or I don’t know. Maybe you haven’t. Either way, here’s an explanation for what is going on:

I’m trying to split up personal projects and posts (to go under “Rejcx”), and “professional” projects and posts (to “Moosader”).

I’ve been using “Moosader” as a personal handle online for quite a while now, but I also really like that name, and I like using it to brand my games and tutorials. I am not fond of personal forum posts and blogs being linked directly to it, or wanting to post about my life (pictures, news, etc.) and having it “spam” the Moosader accounts. That is why I’ve begun using “Rejcx” as a personal name instead.

For example: @Moosader can be about gamedev news, @Rejcx can be about my personal opinions and life, and @RejcxEO can hold my ramblings in Esperanto.

I don’t know if Moosader will ever turn into a business that has other employees, but even at the point I’m currently at, this seems to make the most sense.

And now, obligatory definitions:

  • Moosader (rhymes with “Crusader”) is a name I created while playing Ragnarok Online. As a Crusader. With antlers. Moose-Crusader, get it?
  • Rejcx is a vague, Esperantization of my name. “Rachel” would be written as “Rejĉelo”, “Rach” would be written as “Rejĉ”, and due to that annoying little hat (ok I actually love esperantajn ĉapelojn), it can be hard to type “Rejĉ” in various places. Therefore we use the “x-system” to signify hats, so “Rejĉ” becomes “Rejcx” and then it looks all l33t and crap. I think it’s cute, whatever.