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Evelyn Murphy delivers Lubin Symposium talk, teaching women to fight for what they are worth

Published: March 14, 2014
Section: News, Top Stories


On Tuesday, March 11 students, faculty and staff gathered in Rapaporte Treasure Hall to hear Dr. Evelyn Murphy deliver the 19th annual Tillie K. Lubin Symposium talk entitled “Work Smart, Earn What You Are Worth.”

Sponsored by the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and The WAGE Project, Inc., the 2014 Lubin Symposium invited Evelyn Murphy take part in a series of events this week on campus to teach women how and why to negotiate their salaries. In 1986, Dr. Murphy became the first woman elected to statewide office in Massachusetts serving as Lieutenant Governor. Prior to that, she served as Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs in the late 1970s, holding responsibility for the state’s environmental policy.

The program was followed by workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings that echoed Dr. Murphy’s lecture to train young women how to advocate for a salary that they believe they should earn. In collaboration with the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, the Provost, the International Business School and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, this year’s Lubin Symposium gained support from the campus community in an effort to give women the tools to be able to know how to ask for what they deserve.

Murphy is the founder of The WAGE Project, Inc., a grassroots organization dedicated to ending discrimination against women in the American workplace by aiming to eliminate the gender wage gap.

In the beginning of Murphy’s talk, she said that one of the main problems in the gender wage gap is that there is too much discussion on the numbers and statistics, and less of a focus on taking action. She said it is important to recognize that women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, but if women start focusing more on how to change this statistic, they will see greater results in the long run.

Murphy shared that half of this idea is having the confidence to ask for what you need and that the other half is having the tools to do something about it.

“My goal right now is to have you walk out of here, committed to acting to be paid what you are worth, comfortable and confident that you know how to do that,” Dr. Murphy said. “This problem has been around for a long time and it’s not going to change unless we do something about it.”

Murphy shared her three-part toolkit that women need to ask for the salary they deserve. She said that the only way to accomplish the goal is to be objective, persuasive and strategic, and that this plan will not work if women fail to do one of these things.

“If you are two out of the three, you won’t be paid fairly. The key is to keep assessing how good you are and to keep learning to get better,” Murphy said.

First, Murphy claimed the important thing in being objective is doing research. This includes looking up people in your geographic location who have a similar job and figuring out how much they earn. She said it is important to calculate your benefits as well.

“You have to aim high but be realistic,” Dr. Murphy said.

Secondly, Murphy said that being persuasive includes listening, flexibility and positivity. She said that when you listen you will hear what your company wants, and the only way you will learn that is by listening for it.

“You have to practice your pitch for five minutes, and then listen to what they want. Listen very carefully, that’s the key to flexibility,” she said.

Lastly, Murphy said that in being strategic, everything is about timing. She says that it is important to schedule a meeting that works for you and your boss. This might be right after you have received an award, or it might be in sync with the cycle in which most people in the company usually get salary raises.

Murphy also offered suggestions as to how to talk with bosses who may not be initially in support of this idea. She said that some bosses might say there is not enough room in the budget for a raise, or that the CEO will not support this idea. She said that if you are strategic and persistent, you will be able to eventually get to where you want to be.

Dr. Wendy Cadge, an associate professor in the sociology department, introduced the Lubin Symposium. She shared that 16 staff and faculty members will be trained this week to offer these WAGE project workshops over the next couple of years here at Brandeis.

“We are really excited that this is an initiative that’s going to continue in a lot of different forms for a lot of different constituents,” Cadge said.

The Lubin Symposium is named for Tillie K. Lubin, a woman who had a lifelong passion for the arts and a particular affinity for Spanish culture. In the late 1930s, she married Charles Lubin, shortly after he bought a chain of bakeries in Chicago. After the birth of their first daughter, Sara Lee, they renamed their company the Kitchens of Sara Lee. The success from their company allowed the Lubins to engage in many philanthropic projects, not only at Brandeis but also at Skidmore College and at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Her daughter, Sara Lee Schupf, served on the Women’s Studies Program Board in the 1990s and established the Lubin Symposium in her honor.