The Coupling Rant »« Dreaming for Women

Something Hard and Something Easy

If you haven’t already seen half a dozen links from your friends to Gerty-Z’s “I gay wrote this post,” first, ask your friends why they’re letting you down. Then read it.

What I wanted to write about today is what it is like to be out as a new TT academic in the bio-sciences. EcoPhysioMichelle over at C6-H12-O6 has a post up about feeling invisible as a non-heterosexual academic. As she points out, it can be relatively easy to not mention the fact that you are LGBT. I have made it a point in my life to NOT be invisible. In other words, I am fully out. Everyone in my department knows that I am gay: colleagues, administrators, the janitor. All of the students know. My wife comes with me to departmental events and we have the lab peeps over for the occasional BBQ. If you are straight, you may be thinking “well, everyone knows that I am straight”. No big deal, right. Wrong.

Why is it hard to be out? Not for the reasons you probably think. However, I think we’ve had enough straight people speaking for lesbians for a while. Find out from Gerty herself.

Now for something a bit easier. Let me start by noting that I have never in my working life received a raise that was only cost of living. Some of the raises I’ve received, percentage-wise, have made people’s jaws drop.

Awesome, right? Go, me!

Well, that’s one way to look at it. It’s probably not the best way, though, particularly given that I haven’t asked for raises that big. What it really means is that I’ve been underpaid. When someone gives you a raise to “bring you up to where you should be,” that means you started way too low and stayed there until someone noticed. It means I’ve missed out on significant earning power over my career and only avoided missing out on more by not staying anywhere I didn’t have a really good boss.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way. And my friend Lynne has a post up about three sentences that will go a long way to keep it from happening to you when you start a job.

These are the three most important sentences that I learned in library school:

“I’m really excited about this opportunity. However, the offer is a little below my range. Can we do any better, say [name a number $5000 more than offer on table?]“

These sentences are a simpler version of the strategy that worked for my husband when he recently changed jobs. They worked for Lynne, and she lays out the math on what they can mean for someone else, either as earning power or in other perqs that can make your job or your life more pleasant and successful. Go read, absorb, and put them into action the next time you’ve already convinced someone you’re the best person for the job.