As part of a series to mark Equal Pay Day, Moneyish asked some prominent women to share their thoughts and experiences around equal pay. Read more here.

When I first began reporting from the New York Stock Exchange in the 1990s, I faced some pushback. Some people didn’t want a reporter, much less a woman on the trading floor. When you do something that no one else has done before, it’s hard. People don’t like change, and here I was in an all-male sea of suits.

But the pushback made me stronger.  I decided that I needed to own the role and be the best I could be. I hoped the salary would follow but it wasn’t what drove me.

For so many years, Wall Street research was really hard to get. You’d only know that Goldman Sachs was upgrading or downgrading XYZ stock after the market closed rather than first thing in the morning, before the market opened. Slowly, I set out to get those sources to give me their morning call first thing in the morning so I could report the research changes to retail investors at the same time the big guys got it.  I would call every trading desk every morning.  After a while, I was getting research out to retail investors at 7 am, the same time the big money clients were receiving it.  That was one of the important things I was able to pioneer. It helped me make the case that I was bringing value and should be paid fairly and competitively.

We all create our own fate.

 

(Fox Business Network)

Jack Welch was my boss’ boss when I was at CNBC for many years. I was lucky to have such great leadership to learn from. One day he said something that stayed with me my entire career: “Control your own fate or someone else will.”  That comment changed the way I saw things. It told me that I was in charge of my life, that I could create my own fate simply by working hard. But how do you do that? By being indispensable to your company. More than anything else, that will make sure you are paid fairly. You won’t worry that you are not making what your male colleagues are, because chances are, you’ll be earning more than them.

Strive for greatness.  Not what the guy next to you makes.

Of course, companies can do more to support women in the workplace. But they’ve already changed quite a bit. Companies realize the realities of family life and many now give paternity and maternity leave. A lot of reasons have been discussed over the years as to why women make less than men on average. Truth is, I don’t have the answer.  But I know this to be true: competitive pay comes from performance. Not expectations.

Working hard is important because in life, there are no shortcuts. It’s not about who you know or who your father knows. I have always looked at the world like that because of my own upbringing. For years, I watched my father sweating over a hot stove in our family restaurant’s kitchen and my mother working two jobs. That’s where I get my mindset that while we are all equal, our paychecks are not.  And there are some people who simply work harder and drive deeper   You have to earn the respect and the premium you want.  I still live that out today.

Forget expectations. Instead, ask yourself: “How will you become indispensable?”

Maria Bartiromo is Global Markets Editor of Fox Business Network, whose parent company shares common ownership with Moneyish publisher Dow Jones.