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Claire Wasserman - Founder of Ladies Get Paid
INNOVATORS SERIES
Getting ladies paid:
Claire Wasserman
The founder of Ladies Get Paid helps women get their due
“Oh God, it was horrible,” says Claire Wasserman, laughing.
She’s talking about the experience of writing her recent book, Ladies Get Paid: The Ultimate Guide to Breaking Barriers, Owning Your Worth, and Taking Command of Your Career. Writing a book based on the popular network she founded turned out to be more challenging than she expected.
“I had no idea what I was doing and spent three months having the worst imposter syndrome I’ve ever had—which is ironic because I was writing about imposter syndrome,” Wasserman says. “I was writing about perfectionism as I’m completely paralyzed, unable to write, because I’m such a perfectionist. So that was very meta.”
But the lesson was the opposite of meta: Sometimes you need to ask for help. A little outside assistance put Wasserman back on the right track, and Ladies Get Paid arrived in stores in January.
The book is the natural progression of a journey that began years ago, when Wasserman wrote an essay about her dispiriting experience at a big advertising festival and shared it with her friends privately. They shared it with other friends, and similar stories—about not being taken seriously at work, being undervalued and underpaid, being objectified—came pouring into Wasserman’s inbox.
That led to Wasserman hosting a town hall discussion in 2016 for women about money. That turned into a Slack group. Five years later, Ladies Get Paid is a network with nearly 90,000 members offering live events, webinars, online learning, and, naturally, Slack discussions. More than 2 million messages have been exchanged since 2016.
“I watch them,” Wasserman says of the Slack messages. “That sounds creepy, but these things are universal. Any time you think you’re the only one experiencing something, trust me, you’re not.”
In fact, the issues Ladies Get Paid addresses—pay parity, gender equality, workplace discrimination—have been around as long as women have been working, which is to say, forever. So the question facing Wasserman and her Ladies Get Paid colleagues is how to make that energizing, not dispiriting.
“First, history is not linear, and progress is not linear, so it’s always one step forward, two steps back. And there’s always a backlash,” she says. She knows that all too well, having been sued by men’s rights groups for discrimination. The ensuing attention helped her land her book deal.
“Second of all, this requires vigilance,” she adds. “You just have to be consistent with what you do. That anger is energy. Frustration is energy, and you can channel it.”
She goes back to the difficulty she experienced writing her book. Part of what held her back was thinking about how it’d be received, if it would be successful—all things out of her control. But breaking it down into smaller, controllable elements provided much-needed progress.
“What is a win that you can actually achieve and hang your hat on?” she says. With the book, it was small stuff like being able to write freely for an hour. For women in the workplace, it can be simply having a meeting with a supervisor.
“It’s like, remember the macro, but don’t stay in it,” Wasserman adds, because huge issues—like the pay gap—have a way of making everything feel futile. Small wins, however, energize.
“I know the system needs changing, but I don’t think about that as often as I focus on smaller components,” Wasserman says, “like, ‘What is this one webinar that I’m teaching to these 50 women and what are they going to learn in this?’”
What they’re learning and what they’re asking about continues to evolve.
“I’m seeing a big change from when I started this in 2016, where women for the first time, many of them, were talking about money and wanting more money,” Wasserman says. “Now they’re like, ‘Gamestop—should I invest?’ The zeitgeist is just in favor of talking about money in a way that it never was before.”
That excites Wasserman.
“Because before you could say, ‘Hey, you should invest. It’s free money, compound interest over time,’ and they’d go, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know,’” she says. “Well, now they’re seeing all these people are making so much money. The stock market has done well during an economic downturn, and these women are going, ‘Why not me?’”
“Why not me?” might as well be the motto of Ladies Get Paid. It may have taken a while for more women to ask the question, but the fact that so many are doing it now is something more than a small victory.

Who inspires the innovators?

Our Innovators Series isn’t just about highlighting the people we select; it’s also about making connections to the larger world they inhabit. We want to give our innovators the chance to champion others whose work is important and/or inspires them.
Dr. Akilah Cadet, @changecadet
Diversity, equity, and inclusion specialist
“Akilah was the sensitivity editor for my book and has taught workshops for Ladies Get Paid on how to encourage inclusivity in our workplaces.”
Amanda Litman, @amandalitman
Co-founder of Run For Something
“Amanda moderated a panel at our 2020 conference.”
Alli Moran, @moranforsenate
Founder, Wakpá Wašté Scholars Alliance
“Alli is speaking at our Equal Pay Summit 2021.”

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