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ATLANTA -- Women in America are still making significantly less than their male counterparts. A new report by the American Association of University Women findswomenearned 77 percent of what men did in 2010.

Career coach and11Alive Dish contributor Debra Shigley says there are some simplestepsto help close the pay gap.

Her top 5 tips:

  • Choose to negotiate. Although there has been new research challenging the notion that women don't ask for raises, it's my experience coaching women and particularly millennial women that they are still hesitant to ask for more money or benefits. The biggest improvement most women can make is choosing to negotiate in the first place.

  • Gather your arsenal. You need to research the going rate for your contributions. Look at sites like salary.com and glassdoor.com to get comps for what you should be making. Also, practice your pitch. Do a mock conversation with a friend or mentor to build confidence -- and brainstorm responses to inevitable counterarguments.

  • Quantify your accomplishments. Never focus on why you need a raise, but instead why you've earned it. Be ready to list all your accomplishments in a manner that matters to management. Instead of simply naming what you did, describe the results. What customers or $$$ did you bring to the company? How did you directly contribute to the bottom line?

  • Channel your inner "agent." Research has shown that women feel much more comfortable asking for things when negotiating on behalf of someone else -- as would an agent or a mom negotiating for her child! Visualize and think, how would you make a case for them? Then, take your own advice!

  • Take "No" for "not now." We often hear, "Don't take no for an answer"-- but that's not very practical advice when it comes to an employment situation and you need the job! If your boss turns down the raise the opportunity, get real feedback about what you can do to get a yes next time. Say, "It would really help my future efforts to know what, specifically, I can do to earn this raise." Get your boss to commit to a timeline of when she'll reconsider-- and follow up in 3, 6, 9 months, etc.

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