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To close the wage gap, Boston hopes salary negotiation workshops will create a culture shift

Zeninjor Enwemeka writes, "Sixteen women are gathered at the public library in West Roxbury. The group includes a lawyer, a social worker, a high school counselor and a recent college graduate. They come from different backgrounds, but they all share a common concern: how to make sure they’re earning the pay they feel they deserve.

Julia Geisman facilitates the group discussion. She runs a company called Career Agility that's focused on advancing women in the workplace.

'Let me just ask one thing: How many of you love to negotiate?' Geisman asks the group. One person — an attorney — raises her hand.

'How many of you would rather put a nail in your eye than to negotiate?' Geisman asks. Most of the women raise their hand. 'Oh, isn’t that interesting. So obviously this ... is one of those areas that is an opportunity for growth.'

For many in the group, the thought of asking for a raise or promotion causes a lot of anxiety. They don't want to seem entitled or greedy.

'[There's] this … unsettled feeling I get when negotiating that either I’m overselling and being perceived as entitled, or overshooting or underselling and feeling like I’m getting taken advantage of and never just walk away feeling like I did it just right,' says Tracy Fitzpatrick, a career coach from West Roxbury, who's participating in the workshop.

For Ximena Sanchez-Samper, a psychiatrist from Weston, there's also a little fear."


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