First, as you are a woman, stop crying.
Before you meet with your boss, put together a list of your accomplishments. This should include some of the proposals your boss ultimately took credit for, but not so many that it seems you’re trying to prove a passive-aggressive point. Also, don’t include too many of the group projects you initiated that were handed to your male coworkers to run, as this will only prove what everyone keeps saying about you not being a team-player.
Prepare in advance what the lowest number is that you will accept. While determining this figure, take into account the number of years you’ve worked there, if/and by how much you’ve increased the company’s profitability and what that guy Ryan who got hired at the same time as you but with an inexplicably higher salary based on nebulous prior experience makes. Be careful not to ask for more than Ryan. They’ve made it very clear in previous conversations that they can’t go paying one employee more than another for the same job.
Schedule a meeting with your boss. Many people make the mistake of “popping-in” to ask for a raise unexpectedly. Women especially are prone to err in this way as they are impulsive and flighty. Don’t follow your boss into his/her/but-probably-his office like a puppy chasing a squirrel. Also be sure not to initiate a conversation when you run into each other in the parking lot during lunch when you’re on your cell again arguing with your mom about why you never call. Make sure to make an appointment in your boss’s calendar so he’s prepared to meet with you while subtly being made aware that you’re capable of telling time and know what a calendar is.
Don’t ask your boyfriend or husband to negotiate for you, no matter how many times he tells you he could if you wanted.
Prior to your negotiation meeting, find a good place in the building to prepare yourself. Bathrooms work well as your nervous female energy will make you likely to start to cry and/or it’s possible you have not yet stopped crying all day/week/month. Splashing water in your face will help; staring at yourself in the mirror wondering where that grey hair came from and how you got stuck in a position with seemingly no room for advancement as your life slips away will not. Schedule enough time to return to the bathroom again when you inevitably start crying in the hallway on your way out. Add eight extra minutes to allow yourself to spiral into questioning why you can never just get it together and how this is just that 10th-grade frog dissection disaster all over again.
During the conversation, maintain eye contact and smile, but not too much of either so as not to appear bitchy or ditzy. Remember that men are often confused by straightforward expressions of composure and will decide you are “cold,” a particularly damning determination from which there is little hope of return. Alternate eye contact and smiling at eight-second intervals to properly position yourself as somehow miraculously both a woman and a capable employee. Do not wear too much makeup as this will make you look “cheap and unprofessional” nor should you avoid makeup as you will look “old and tired” and therefore more invisible than Wonder Woman’s plane. Question how Wonder Woman was able to afford that plane given the wage gap. Look into government grants.
Speak clearly and firmly. Women say “sorry” too much and should refrain from using it. If you knock over your boss’s coffee or accidentally set fire to his desk, lock eyes and nod slowly. Refrain from common female speech traps like uptalk, vocal fry, or using the word “like.” In fact, avoid similes altogether. Employ metaphors if you absolutely must, but only those that reference sports or vaguely allude to penises. Never ever allude to vaginas.
Focus not just on your past accomplishments but also on your future plans for your position. This IS a good time to discuss a new account you will be landing. It is NOT a good time to discuss how you’re the reason everyone had to go to sexual harassment training after the boss’s nephew made a comment about your ass again.
Don’t go negative. No one wants to hear how you haven’t had a raise in years or that you never complain about how cold the office is even though it’s so cold, holy fuck, why do they keep it so cold are they chilling champagne to toast all the men who keep getting promoted above you? Your boss wants to hear about what you can and will do, not whining. Remember that all negative statements from a woman are irrational emotional over-reactions.
Have a plan in case your boss says no. If you brought a pint of just-in-case-of-sadness-ice-cream into the meeting, offer your boss at least one bite before crying into the rest of it. This will build future goodwill so that the next time you ask for a raise maybe you won’t be such a big failure, like you always are. Be careful not to be visually disappointed with friends and family for more than two and a half minutes, lest anyone accuse you of being dramatic. Read empowering female writing to remind yourself that women can do anything they want and use that as an excuse to order both Chinese and Mexican for dinner. Update your resume and reach out to people to network with while recognizing that the men will ignore your professional inquiry and only think you want to sleep with them. Make more female friends. Talk to them about the discrimination and obstacles both subtle and overt they’ve faced throughout their careers. Start companies with them. Hire other women, shift cultural norms and change the world.
But first, stop crying.