Money is hard to talk about. I was always taught never ask what others make because it was rude. I’m not the only one who was raised this way, and it’s time we all start getting a little more comfortable. It’s hard to know your market value when you have nothing for comparison.
Last night, I attended Portland’s first Ladies Get Paid event at the Swift Agency. Ladies Get Paid is a group, founded by Claire Wasserman, that hosts events to help women advocate for themselves at work. The event was a town hall-style gathering with the theme “Women & Money.”
I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I arrived very early and made a friend come with me. First of all, the design of the Swift office is the stuff Instagram dreams are made of. From the hardwood floors to the ivy plants growing up the painted bricks, every wall and surface could serve as a beautiful backdrop for any square image. After we checked in, we were offered complimentary wine and beer to get the party started. The room was buzzing with over 150 women eager to start the discussion.
We were all pretty surprised to learn despite only selling 10 tickets a week before the event, Wasserman was still committed to making it happen. Swift ramped up their publicity efforts and sold out the event within a few hours of the start.
After we all settled into our seats, we were introduced to the evening’s moderator and speakers:
- Claire Wasserman, Founder of Ladies Get Paid (Moderator)
- Liz Valentine, CEO and co-founder of Swift
- Britt Howard, Founder/owner of Portland Garment Factory
- Kelly Clarke, Executive Senior Editor Portland Monthly Magazine
- Aimée Reed, Freelance user experience designer at AKQA and creative director for Ladies Night PDX
- Brooke Graham, Consultant at Propeller
The impressive lineup took turns discussing their journeys, including their incredible wins and difficult sacrifices. And just like that — the flood gates opened.
The attendees began bonding over the war stories specific to being a woman in the workforce. Hands shot up in support and empathy as women revealed each of their struggles. One woman spoke about the time her boss told her to “take one for the team” when she asked for a raise and was denied. I was blown away by the openness, and clearly, others were as well. I overheard a whispered comment from the girl next to me:
“This is getting too real.”
Yes, this is real — which is why we need to get comfortable talking about money. If you don’t talk about money, you will not get paid. Part of the problem is women tend to suffer more from imposter syndrome and generally chalk up their success to luck rather than their proven skills and ability.
Overcoming this crippling self-doubt and getting out of my own head is something I am constantly trying to conquer. This is especially hard as a writer who lets damaging narratives escalate out of control. As Taylor Swift said to her own antagonist, “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative.”
True confidence doesn’t show up overnight. While the times are changing, women need to feel confident enough to ask for what they want and demand what they need. Aimée Reed had one of my favorite quotes of the night: “You have to ask or else they can’t say yes.”
There are enough factors that make chasing your dreams difficult — don’t let yourself be one of them. Know your worth, and help other women realize theirs.