Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pricing your own time

In every consultants life there is a time when s/he must put a dollar value to their own time. Yes every hourly employee had to decide weather or not to work for what the boss-man pays, hey some have even gone on strike over bad wages. However, when you have to pull a number out of thin air it actually takes some soul searching. For my entire working career I know I've been paid on the "no penis discount" meaning (at least in architecture) .75 Denise Scott Brown cents on every Robert Venturi $1.00. Even when I started working for a woman owned firm and got a 25% raise, I was still in the hole because i started out at a lower salary.

So now that I'm in a position to really call the shots and value my professional expertise for what it is, I'm having a little sticker shock. The thing is, so far every client has been totally on board with what I've asked. My informal market survey says that I'm definitely in the ball park. And hey who says they can't negotiate? I know its a case of wavering self-esteem. I do the things I do, it's not hard for me; it would be impossible for my clients to do. So I should charge appropriately for my time and expertise. Not to mention I have to cover the nanny/sitter's time too. (For some reason no one expects that to come out of my husbands pay, just mine but thats another blog for another day.)

Ok so as soon as I close this window I'm going to write a couple of proposals and ask for my more than fair price. Because I'm worth it. Heck after the projects done I may even color my hair.


Kisha said...

Crampton said...

The salary differentials you cite are of course correct on average. But, the differences largely disappear once we statistically correct for a few relevant factors like experience, education, full time vs part time status and time outside of the workforce. Basically, the way labour economists handle the issue is to set up a big spreadsheet with wages in one column, all of those other kinds of factors (including gender) in other columns, then run regressions to see what portion of variance in wages is due to each of the covariates. Once you put in all the controls, gender doesn't have that much effect -- maybe about 5%. Am happy to forward on the relevant papers when I'm next at work: I do a whole lecture on the economics of discrimination in my Econ of current policy issues course at Canterbury.

Kisha said...

What ever the spreadsheet says, my experience has been very different. I feel that, aside from the fact that race and gender tend to have a negative affect on "other factors" like education and experience, even with the same education and experience I haven't been given the pay or opportunity for advancement as my young white male peers. Because even as I have a great education and experience my supervisors assume that I do not.

While labour economist are probably right when they balance out the aggregate of workers, certain locations and jobs types probably fair worse than others. I'm not really one to blame "the man" for my problems but long term institutional and cultural sexism and racism have affected my career.

For example a close friend and I started working in architecture at almost exactly the same time in the same area. I had complete a four year (pre-professional) degree with honors but no experience. my friend had dropped out of school with a couple of summer's of experience I feel that summer internships where not as readily available to me while I was in school. He was hired at 25% more.

4 years later he was promoted and given more responsibility and raises annually. I was told that to be given a raise i needed more education and so I went back to school. Which then increased dramatically my time outside of the workforce. 12 years later I have a Master's degree, and my friend makes more than 2x's as much as i did at my last job. He still has hasn't completed school.

This is just my experience. And it should be noted that the first architect that i worked for was African-American, but told me that the reason he didn't assign me to "on-site construction management", while this was the only experience category I needed in order to complete IDP and site for the license exam. and I quote, "Well Kisha I didn't want to send you to the site because you alway wear such nice shoes to the office."-- He was serious. I quit (like 4 times). even suggested that I change my first name on my resume to generate more traffic. maybe because my name is somewhat unique to the female children of Blacks of the 1970's. Kisha Patterson got 13 resume views, K. Patterson got 60 or more, with the same resume.

African Americans, Especially Women, Build Up Their Numbers in Architecture

Wiki for what its worth

Hey they found two, and I don't even know them!

The AIA found some

if there are 145 black woman who are architects, and I personally know at least 20 of them... I should start a play th=
e lottery more.

Crampton said...

One of the other factors that's a bit harder to control for, but does affect offered salaries, is maternity risk. Suppose an employer is faced with two otherwise-identical workers but one of whom has (she guesses) a 30% risk of taking maternity leave over the next five years. That's costly for the employer: has to find someone to cover, the worker is less productive over the duration of pregnancy, and so on. We'd then expect employers to offer lower wages where they expect maternity risk. The best study I've seen on this was a French one that compared childless men and women in their 20s and childless men and women in their 50s who were looking for work. Long story short, maternity risk seemed to be explaining a decent chunk of whatever effect gender still has on wages after correcting for education and experience and so on.

There have been audit studies on resumes suggesting that very black sounding names, for lack of a better way of putting it, do draw less resume interest. Steve Levitt's got a chapter on it in Freakonomics.

I'll email you over my lecture notes for the discrimination lecture....

Anonymous said...

I so do not agree with the notion of "increased cost of employing a woman who will take maternity leave in the next 5 years" idea.

I have hired people for other companies and now do the hiring for my own company. The way I see it the 3-6 months of paying a temp (plus the training) is a small price to pay for a competent worker who takes time to have kids.

Employees who receive a fair living wage stay with the company longer. They are happier, can afford a sitter when their child is sick, has fewer sick days and are likely not to even take all their sick days. To the small employer paying a fair wage, hiring women will get you ahead. Studies have shown this. They have high productivity rates.

If my employees are caring competent people and I am a caring competent employer then we are all happy and pulling in high revenue streams.

I know one male owned company with 100 employees that leans towards hiring women because though the women do take all their leave time they have a tendency to have higher productivity rates then a more equally mix of the sexes.

And yes I am female.

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