I have been thinking of this issue for a while, and am just now putting in on paper. I know with past jobs, I sure did feel like I was underpaid. But looking at situations, I did end up "settling" with what I was willing to take. Regardless of my MBA and experience, I was willing to take something to live by. Looking over my whole experience in salary negotiations, I have shot myself in the foot on alot of occasions and regret it either by not negotiating, and negotiating on a higher level.
Now, I just got a new job. Not getting too much into the actual numbers, this one is making exactly the same salary I was making at my last job PLUS the chance to make commissions, something I never had the opportunity to do before. What I was making on my last job, I thought was good because I was still learning the ropes of importing and was waiting on my customs brokers license. With this job now, I never really been an "account manager" and did not know much about the industry that the company represents which is tradeshows. Looking back, I probably could have asked for about $5000 more, but I did not want to rock the boat. It was a job offer, and I took it after 6 months without a job.
Back in May I started to learn about the negotiating game. One company in particular offered me a job. It was close to an hour away from home, and they were asking $10,000 more than what I was making from by last job. But they were going to throw in an additional incentive for "compliance" with the possiblity of making another $10,000 additional. On paper the deal looks good, but it was an hour a way from home, means a new car, new car seats, price of gas. Well, thinking of all the extra costs involved, I went ahead and stepped up the negotiation to the max..I countered with the $20,000 more I was making. I did not care much about the incentive at that point, I just needed something to cover the extra costs especially since it was an hour away! And do you know what, those people are still probably looking at my counter offer because I never heard from them again. Truly in my heart of hearts, I KNOW I am worth that salary that I countered back with. I just think they were taken back with my persistance in getting it up more to a level I wanted.
Now, I am at a salary I think could be fluffed more. But, you know what, compared to other things I have been offered and work environments, this one seems best. Maybe I can earn that extra $5000 next year after my review. But we will see. Perhaps I can earn a ton on commissions and it be a moot point.
Women being underpaid is very common. I see articles reinforcing that fact. http://edition.cnn.com/2005/US/Careers/06/23/women.salary/. This one is a good one to read on that fact. I also saw another article that said if you want to earn more money these days, you have to work longer hours.http://www.nber.org/digest/jul06/w11895.html
I will make what I am worth one day, but looking at all aspects of life, raising a family and their importance, I think that will be closer to my empty-nester years when the girls are away from the nest and I can concentrate on a long-houred career. It may raise risk of illness, but I would make it! Some type of motivation, huh?