At a CodeChix conference, I heard that women often sell ourselves short in the workplace. Someone in a keynote talked about how men always apply for jobs that are beyond their skill set and that they always negotiate for a better salary. The speaker advised us to start thinking differently about our skills and what we are capable of doing, and reminded us that we are worth more than we are offered. I took that advice to heart.
When I got laid off a couple of years ago, I looked for jobs that were a bit of stretch for me and applied for those. I was hired at Stanford doing a job that I am definitely qualified to do but that also required that I step out of my comfort zone and wing it occasionally when something required of me wasn't quite in my wheelhouse. I've learned a lot and have been very successful, becoming a critical part of the team.
As for salary, the initial salary offering was well below what I was expecting and what I had been making before. I negotiated a $20k increase in my starting salary. I wasn't eligible for a salary increase in my first year, so the first increase was to come at about the 18th month of my employment. The raise I was given was well below what I deserved, and even further below even a basic cost-of-living increase. I expressed my disappointment to my manager and reminded her that I hadn't received a raise last year because I was a new employee.
She acknowledged that she had forgotten that I hadn't received any salary increases for 18 months and she did some research and discovered that my salary was below the average for other people at Stanford doing similar work. She went to her management team and asked for a correction and I got a very generous salary increase.
It definitely pays to have confidence in yourself and your abilities and to remind others that those abilities are worth rewarding.