How Playing the Long Game Works for Women

A salary isn't just a straightforward number. Your salary can also include innumerable benefits, from workplace flexibility to free snacks to big discounts on gym memberships. There are often some other perks thrown in as well, like matching retirement contributions or a health savings account. One of the most common, especially these days, is stock options.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have been looking into how employee stock options pay off for businesses. Their data came up with an interesting result: Female workers tended to be more valuable — that is, their stock options cost the company 2 percent to 4 percent more than men's. The reason is simple: Women are holding onto their stock options longer.

The basic theory behind stock options is that companies are betting on employees cashing in before a set date, usually years in the future, when the options reach their full value. The Berkeley researchers also found that options which vest monthly (and thus more quickly), rather than annually, tend to yield less for employees. In short, if you can afford to be patient or if you're just naturally more conservative about investing, letting your stock options breathe pays off in the long run.

Of course, it's also worth noting that whatever salary or combination of benefits you're getting at work, your labor is worth about three times that to the company. If you're looking into a new job or just a raise, make sure you know all the ways to check whether that money is going to be worth it for you.