Salary Negotiation Workshops for Women

Empowering Boston‘s women through salary negotiation workshops.


Additional information




North America

Location: Boston, USA

Organization: American Association of University Women (AAUW)

About the Wise Practice

Women who work full-time take home about 83 cents for every dollar a full-time male worker is paid. Unless things change, the pay gap will not close til 2106. Research has shown that women either don’t negotiate or are not as successful as men when they do negotiate. Providing women with concrete tools to empower them to negotiate in their own authentic way is an important factor in changing the culture and closing the gender wage gap.

Work Smart was launched in 2015 by the City of Boston and the American Association of University Women. The program offers free salary negotiation workshops for every woman who works or lives in Boston. The program is designed to empower workshop participants, help them determine their value in the job market, and provide them with the concrete skills they need at the negotiation table. The workshop is offered in-person and online and is now offered in eight cities and states across the US.

Demographic data on workshop participants interviewed shows that a majority of them have been white. Targeting women of color needs to be an intentional part of program delivery. Many women indicated that they learned about the workshop through professional networking groups that may not be as accessible to women of color.


Economic Security


Goal 1: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, by ensuring decent work and equal pay for equal work, or work of equal value (NUA 13c, 57; SDG 8.5; CEDAW article 11).


After the first year of the workshops a case study was compiled and included analysis based primarily on in-depth interviews with 52 women who completed workshops.

  • 87% identified target salaries, using objective market research to develop an appropriate compensation level.
  • 73% benchmarked their salaries, using market research to compare their pay level to similar positions
  • 48% either negotiated increased compensation for their existing job or achieved a competitive starting salary for a new job or position.
  • 40% started conversations with their supervisors about their work and their value to their employer
  • 29% asked for a raise in their current job.
  • 71% referred co-workers, colleagues and/or friends to AAUW Work Smart in Boston.

The first year of the program reached close to 1,800 women and up to 2022, over 188K women have participated in AAUW’s salary negotiation programs in Boston and other cities.


The program is run under the direction of the AAUW and the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement. 

Lessons Learned

There was strong consensus among workshop completers about wanting to organize post-workshop connections and continued skill-building opportunities.

Suggestions include:

  • Develop an online network of workshop completers through social media
  • Provide contact information for trained career counselors
  • Ask facilitators about their interest in being mentors after the workshop and provide contact information for those willing to do so
  • Share stories of successful salary negotiation strategies through message boards or other safe platforms

Resources and More Information

  1. One Year Report on Program
  2. More information about the workshops
  3. AAUW Work Smart Site


Published: April 25, 2020