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Equal Pay Day Tips for Working Women

Whether you’re just starting your career or are already pressed firmly against that glass ceiling, here's a handy guide for succeeding like a man.

Ladies, today we celebrate a great milestone. As of April 12, 2011, we have officially caught up to what our male counterparts earned in 2010. It only took us an extra 102 days! Personally I’m feeling as empowered as a vintage Virginia Slims ad, but a lot of people are asking why, in the year 2011, such a large wage gap—77 cents for women compared to each $1 earned by men—still exists.

Well, I’m here to tell you it’s definitely not about sexism! Women of America, you’re doing the same work but making less than your male counterparts because you just don’t have their workplace savvy. Luckily there’s a lot of research out there about what women can do to improve their standing in the professional world, and I’ve compiled a handy guide for you. Whether you’re just starting your career or already pressed firmly against that glass ceiling, there’s something here for everyone.

Don’t choose a profession that is female-dominated. The wages tend to be depressed already. I mean, caring for children? Teaching? Girly stuff. You need to pick a man-tested, man-approved field if you want to rake in a decent salary.

But if you’re one of the few women in a male-dominated profession, as there will probably be some limits to your advancement because you may be seen as “unsociable and difficult to work with.” A 2004 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology found “successful women were characterized as more selfish, manipulative and untrustworthy—your typical constellation of 'bitchy' characteristics," according to one researcher.

Get educated! We all know that advanced degrees are one way to ensure you’ll earn an advanced salary.

But don’t expect that fancy book-learning to correlate with higher pay. According to a White House report released last month, in 2009 women earned about 75 percent as much as their male counterparts at all levels of education.

Be sure to negotiate. How will you earn more money if you don’t ask for it?

But don’t negotiate too hard, lest you be seen as a total harpy. "People found that to be way too aggressive," economist Linda Babcock told NPR in February. "She was successful in getting the money, but people did not like her. They thought she was too demanding. And this can have real consequences for a woman's career."

Be more cutthroat. The working world rewards go-getters and alphas, and nice gals finish last. Toughen up and maybe you’ll get that corner office!

But don’t, like, be a ball-busting bitch once you get there. Studies have shown that employees, both male and female, are wary of working for high-achieving women. And since only 20 percent of professional leaders are women, you’ve got to represent your whole gender. Do us all a favor and don’t make all of your employees hate you.

Maintain your appearance, especially if you are over the age of 30. Put on some lipstick and a nice pair of heels. Just because you’re one of the boys doesn’t mean you should wear what they do.

But for god’s sake, don’t dress like a slut! How will anyone respect you if they can see that you have breasts?

Use your natural nurturing skills to your advantage. Conservative author Christina Hoff Sommers has written that "a practical, responsible femininity could be a force for good in the world beyond the family, through charitable works and more enlightened politics and government."

But don’t expect to actually raise a child and keep your career on track. Breast pumps and salary bumps are mutually exclusive. Research shows that, regardless of performance, women with children are seen as less competent and less committed to work. They’re also less likely to be promoted. And in one survey, participants said they would offer working mothers wages an average of $13,000 lower than wages for fathers.

Get comfortable on the golf course. Know your way around a humidor. Suggest a post-work happy hour at the local strip club. The real deals all happen outside the workplace, you know.

But don’t be too uptight about it when those outside-the-workplace meetings happen in places that still explicitly ban you.

Congratulations! If you’ve followed all these easy tips, you are now a successful, self-determined, professional woman! Your friends always said you were the Miranda, and now you’ve got the salary to prove it. You are challenged and fulfilled at work! You probably make more than most men you know!

But good luck getting laid. You will probably die alone.

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