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The most effective way for young women to actually get paid what they're worth

An excerpt from Mika Brzezinski and Daniela Pierre-Bravo's upcoming book, "Earn It! Know Your Value and Grow Your Career, In Your 20s and Beyond," out May 7.
Know Your Value founder and "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski and Know Your Value millennial contributor Daniela Pierre-Bravo.
Know Your Value founder and "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski and Know Your Value millennial contributor Daniela Pierre-Bravo.Miller Hawkins

Mika's newest title "Earn It! Know Your Value and Grow Your Career, In Your 20s and Beyond," co-written by Know Your Value millennial contributor Daniela Pierre-Bravo, will be out May 7. Pre-order your copy here.

The following is an excerpt from "Earn It!":

If you’ve been working hard for the first few years of your career, you want to be ready to talk about what value you bring to your job. You don’t want to miss that crucial moment. I missed the moment when I first came to "Morning Joe" — I signed a contract because I was just grateful to get it. I should have paused to consider the fact that I was helping to bring in great ratings numbers, and that it gave me real leverage.

Afterward I looked around at the guys who were not coming to work until they had contracts to their liking. They were cutting huge deals, and I had totally missed my opportunity to get my value in real time. But I’m not alone: I think women have a harder time owning what they’re really worth. Please learn from my mistakes: if you’re in business and starting to work alongside professionals who make a lot more money than you, or who have much higher titles but do the same work you do, be ready to seize your moment.

Use the Data

The simplest and most effective way to be paid what you’re worth is to make sure you know the going rate for the work you do. Arm yourself with data when it comes to your salary. Research average salaries in your field, and for your position. When you know what others make for the same work, it’s easier to ask for a raise — because you’re not asking for any favors, you’re just asking for the going rate.

Nowadays, there are more technological tools than ever to give you information on average salaries in your field. To start, you can look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook — an all-encompassing resource guide published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, that breaks down average salary based on industries. O*NETOnLine allows you to explore salaries based on geographic location or ZIP Code.

Other resources include the NACE Salary Calculator and the Glassdoor Salary Database on Other websites like,, and are also useful tools. There are even phone apps that help uncover what people around you earn, like Dice Careers from and WageSpot, which help map salaries in your area, estimate your salary worth based on skill and location, and even identify how you might increase your earning potential.

Also — talk to people. Talk to people in your industry, both men and women, about what they think the range of salaries is for people in your field, and in your position. Salaries can vary significantly, and the more you know, the better prepared you are.

Negotiating your compensation is so important — especially at the beginning of your career. Raises are typically a percentage improvement over your existing salary. If your existing salary is under market, what does that mean? It means you’re always going to be underpaid unless you push. When you’re gearing up for that first salary negotiation, executive coach Liz Bentley says to always go in asking for a number that’s higher than what you expect to get, especially because young women are often paid below market value. And if you know you’re paid below market rate, she says, you should ask for a salary marketplace adjustment.

We have to get out of our comfort zone when it comes to asking for money. Feeling the burn and pressure when you’re advocating for yourself is important. The more you do, you’ll start getting used to it, and the better you’ll be at it!