Six signs you’re being underpaid (and what to do about it)

Posted by
Megan Murray
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Women are stereotypically less likely to ask for a pay rise than men: this has to stop. If you think your salary deserves a bump, read our six tips for approaching your boss for more money. 

TV presenter Catt Sadler hit the nail on the head when, earlier this year, she described how most women feel about asking for a pay rise.

“Culturally we’re taught as women to think, ‘Great, I got the job I wanted’ instead of ‘What are other people making in the marketplace?’ or ‘What can I bring to the table to sweeten the pot a little bit,” Sadler explained after learning that she was being paid significantly less than her male colleagues at E! (a realisation which inspired her to quit her job).

And she’s not wrong: research consistently shows us that women, as a gender, are woefully underpaid.

Typically women not only struggle to ask for more money, but will even take on tasks they know aren’t conducive to a promotion, simply because they feel like it’s expected of them. Studies also show that women are lacking in confidence when it comes to their performance in the office compared to men, another factor that holds them back for asking for a promotion. 

If you’ve been in your role for a substantial amount of time or have taken on more responsibilities and want this to be reflected in a pay rise, but still feel shaken by your insecurities, we’ve got some tips that may help. Working with the experts at, we’ve come up with six ways to work out if you should be gunning for a pay rise and how to go about it. 

It’s high time we rewrote the narrative around women in the workplace. Because let’s get one thing straight, we deserve to be there just as much as men, and asking for your worth is more than an acceptable thing to do. 

Get the facts to prove your financial worth 

“You might know that your work within the office is generating money for your company, but it’s so much better to have the facts and figures so that it’s there in black and white. If you are accountable for sealing a major sale or winning a highly sought-after client but your pay isn’t reflecting this, get together some examples of what you did and how you did it. 

 Although this might take a little bit of time, it’s definitely worth the investment because what may be obvious to you is not necessarily obvious to others. Colleagues are busy with their own responsibilities and might not have looked around lately to acknowledge the work of their peers, but this could be the push your managers need.”

Compare your salary to the rest of your industry 

“To get a solid inference that you’re being underpaid, try and get a direct comparison with similar roles within the same scale of company as yours. It’s important to keep on top of the current salaries within your type of position, and you can do this by looking at websites like Glassdoor, looking at job websites that show expected salaries on applications or even asking friends about what they’re earning if they are in a similar field to you and you feel comfortable. 

Try not to slip into comparing your job role with roles that are more senior to your own as you don’t want to give your manager any reasons to undermine your research.”

Measure the evolution of your role, skills and experience against your pay 

Fashion designer in her studio

“As time goes on, an employee tends to get given more tasks and responsibilities in their workplace as their knowledge and skills grow. This is a great thing as it shows the employer has trust and confidence in the person but if this is happening to you, it’s important that your wage reflects your extra responsibilities. To determine if your extra responsibilities warrant an increase in salary, it may be worth talking to recruiters to see what other roles are available and using this information as a bargaining tool. 

Ask for a meeting with your manager to discuss how your role has changed and prepare any information you can find about other roles that mimic what you seem to be doing, and make sure you take the time to write down everything that has changed since you started, creating a new job spec for yourself.”

Consider your pay as a freelancer 

“Unfortunately, a lot of us undervalue the work we put in on a day to day basis at the office, and this tact is even more common in women than men. To determine whether you are playing down the worth of your role, look into what the hourly rate would be if you were a freelancer and doing the same job.

Then, work out what your current hourly rate is from your existing income and see how big the difference is. Of course, a salary holds certain benefits so take into account the perks that your workplace may give you (even if you don’t use them), but this is a good way of judging if you’re being underpaid and a strong argument for asking for more.”

Images: Getty 


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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

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