Joe Scarborough Was Making 14 Times As Much As Mika Brzezinski


This morning, Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski was on CNBC promoting her book, Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, And Getting What You’re Worth. She took the opportunity to reveal that at one point, she was making one-fourteenth of what co-host and show namesake Joe Scarborough was making.

“It was my fault, ultimately, that I was in that position, because I accepted a deal that wasn’t right for me,” she said. Adding, “It took four tries” with MSNBC’s Phil Griffin “to get it right for myself.” No word on what the current proportion of their salaries is.

The apparent premise of the book is that women are ultimately responsible for making less money, in part by not asking for enough money or by making mistakes in the workplace like apologizing too much. We’re all for giving women tools to realize their own worth and not fall into socialized behavior that leads them to receive and accept less. And possibly this is more nuanced in the book. But the pay gap isn’t just attributable to underpaid women’s actions.

Let’s start with her boss. It’s true that few bosses would differ from Griffin and tell a woman in salary negotiations that she needs to ask for more, although I’ve heard of that happening more than once. But she seems to let him off the hook entirely for paying her less than what she says she’s worth, despite obviously being able to afford it.

Moroever, she doesn’t mention, at least here, the double-bind hard-driving female negotiators face; according to one study (pdf), aggressive negotiating can sometimes backfire on women: “Male evaluators penalized female candidates more than male candidates for initiating negotiations; female evaluators penalized all candidates for initiating negotiations. Perceptions of niceness and demandingness explained resistance to female negotiators.”

Brzezinki suggests that women managers can be harder on female employees than male managers (though notably, the same study found “there was no gender divergence when evaluator was female). Whether or not that’s universally true, it’s generally more marketable to put the onus on women, negotiator and boss alike, and not sound like a “man-hater.” Anyway, women are the market for self-help books.

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