Successful Academic - Dissertation Coaching

Inside this issue: Asking for Enough Money

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"Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons."
-- Woody Allen


"Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy."
– Isaac Newton, Physicist



"The Womanly Art of Negotiation" by "Caroline Conrad" – The Chronicle Article that inspired this newsletter.


"The Impact of Gender on the Review of Curriculum Vitae (etc.)" – the important article by Steinpreis, Anders and Ritzke, that "Caroline Conrad" sent me. Shocking stuff.


Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, will help you learn why academic women make less than their male counterparts and how you can be paid equitably.


Buy this book at

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Some of My Recent Blog Posts at "Academic Coach"

Insincere Diss-acknowledgements:
How writing pseudo-acknowledgements for your dissertation or book can be a fun way to vent your frustrations.

More about Disacknowledgements:
An example of a student who wrote such scathing acknowledgements that his university tried to rescind his degree.

Some Tips For Writing Every Day:
The strategies of an ABD blogger that I found useful.

Read the whole blog

Bargaining Power

When I lived in Bangkok, Thailand, for two years in the early '80s, I became very comfortable with bargaining. When you need to haggle for every taxi ride and every market purchase, for a couple of years, your comfort with money-talk increases.

This comfort with bargaining is in stark contrast with most of my academic coaching clients, who tend to be extremely uncomfortable talking about green stuff. In our society, there are stricter taboos about discussing people's salaries than their sex lives.

All this is a prelude to the point of today's newsletter: there is a VERY IMPORTANT CHRONICLE ARTICLE that I'd like you all to read.

Using the pseudonym "Catherine Conrad", a savvy postdoc in the social sciences writes about how she negotiated her salary and start up package when she was offered a tenure track job.

I'm impressed that Catherine, the mom of a five year old, and nine months pregnant with her second child, has gotten a new job in the midst of her visible pregnancy. Go Girl! And I'm even more impressed by how she handled her salary negotiations and the 'research' she conducted to find out how colleagues had handled the process.

She found, and I agree, that women tend to be terrible at asking for and getting equitable salaries. Her descriptions of the passive way many of her peers have handled salary negotiations are instructive for us all. There are many Great Quotes in the piece.

When I emailed The Chronicle, and asked them to forward my note of praise to "Caroline" she replied to me directly. She also sent me an illuminating article about the topic.

The gist of this research was that both women and men were less likely to recommend hiring a female academic than a male academic based on the exact same resume. Women are discriminated against when they go on the academic job market—and they are discriminated against by women as well as men.

In my coaching practice, I've found that most of the women I work with are very uncomfortable with the process of salary negotiation. Among the men I work with, however, there seems to be a much wider range of comfort and skill with the process. In my experience, there are some men who are brilliant at cocky paycheck requests, but I know many guys out there who "play like a girl" when it comes to salary negotiation.

For example, I've worked with one client for many years who is only just now negotiating for an equitable salary. We hadn't discussed his salary until recently when he said that perhaps he needed to ask for a raise and I suggested that he look up his colleague's salaries (an easy task at his public university.) Sure enough, he was underpaid. We've worked together on this issue, and I won't go into our strategies, but suffice to say; now his pay is comparable to his peers at the same stage. Sometimes, you just need to ask and you shall receive. (I'm amazed at how many academics don't even want to ask.)

Another example: one coaching client found out, post-tenure, the details of everyone's salary by working on the Executive Committee. The client also got to read, while on this committee, every tenure package and annual review report of every faculty member. All of a sudden this person had inside access to all sorts of important information. In passing, the client told me that it would have been possible to serve on this committee pre-tenure: one junior faculty member did each year. My client had decided not to lobby to work on the committee because it was known for being a big time commitment.

"WHAT?" I said, "You could have seen EVERYONE's salary, resume, yearly review report, and tenure packages by serving on this committee? And you never even tried to serve on it? Are you crazy?"

Fortunately, this client did get tenure (it was a close call.) But since having these types of experiences with clients, I routinely ask about my clients' salaries – not the specifics of what they make, but whether they know how they compare with their peers. If they don't know how they compare, I suggest that they find out.

Whether or not you're going on the job market this fall you should know where you stand, or hope to stand, in the salary game. Here are some things to start with:

  • Check with your professional organization to find out the salary range for your current or sought after position.
  • Ask peers or mentors in your department about salary ranges and negotiation tips.
  • Read up on the issue: career columns in The Chronicle are one place to start.
  • Make friends with administrative staff (you should be doing this anyway). The right people will be able to tell you whether your salary is comparable or what new professors make in your department.

I'm always in search of new information about this topic. Please do share your experiences by sending me an email with your thoughts.

How have you handled salary negotiations? Are there things that you're glad you did? Things you wished you did differently? Suggestions you have for newbies on the job market? Any horror stories so that I can warn others?

Thanks for your feedback; it has been great being in touch with the readers who've let me know their summer work plans.

Good luck in the coming weeks,

Mary McKinney, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Academic Coach