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Nice post ET. I agree generally with your view / perspective.

I will share an anecdote which is something common I have detected on men / women differences that may drive part of some of the perceived pay gap.

My wife and her friend were interviewing for jobs (maybe 10 years ago) and they were asking my opinion on resumes, approach to interviews etc. Both were probably top 1/3 in their field, competent, professional, etc (and side note, the field is probably 3/4 women, but not relevant to this example); so I wasn't worried about any technical aspects of the job hunt, but more the soft aspects.

So here is how I start poking on them:

"If they ask what you were paid in your prior job, what is your answer and why?"

Their response - silence, followed by "well, if you include this, and that, or maybe that... take home pay... bonus... " kind of a squishy non-answer (to a squishy question yes...), but one better greeted with a definitive and confident answer.

My response was this which I think for them was good advice, and I think probably good universal advice:

"Step 1 -- know what the realistic job pay range is that you are asking.
Step 2 -- if you are even close to that range, say your prior salary is the absolute highest (yet truthful) # you can justify - salary + overtime + one time bonus for a month x 12 for example"

They both didn't really understand (or I should say think instinctively) that the perspective you should take when you get asked the question is that you are negotiating - it has started... you are answering the question with the goal of pushing the employer to pay you the most they are willing.

My logic was - downside of aiming high is *zero*... also, you need to answer quickly, because if you don't, it means you don't think much about your salary anyway (hence, you don't really care... for whatever reason they assume). Unless you aim so high they get scared away of even offering you a job (hence knowing the range and being reasonable)... but an employers' goal is to hire you (once they have decided to) at the lowest rate... it's not to treat you "fairly"... they don't want to treat you unfairly, but +/-10-20% is certainly within reason. Virtually no employer will offer you more than they think they need to... all employers will hesitate to pay you less than you *expect* unless they have no option.

To me, this was very obvious advice, but to my wife and her friend it wasn't second nature. I don't know if this is some fundamental difference between women and men, but I have found it somewhat consistent. I think guys (generally) are overconfident and leads them to asking more, expecting more, while very competent women seem to be more subdued in stating (or even knowing) what they are truly worth in a job setting. Cultural, hormonal, genetic, or something else, I don't know, but I've found it to be true.

As with all things like this, the plural of anecdote is not data, but I tend to be hyper-sensitive now to this kind of thing when I interview or meet folks to ensure I don't bias my own perception (for example, do you correlate confidence with competence... I do, and I have to fight to adjust how I view others because of this).

Just some musings.
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