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Salary Transparency Laws 

Submitted by Erica August 7, 2023

What are salary transparency laws? Where are they in effect? You may have been seeing headlines about this new legislation and you may have been wondering what this means for you.  

In October 2020, Maryland’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Law started requiring employers to provide a wage range for a position upon a job applicant’s request, meaning it often wasn’t stated in the job ad but could be provided.  The law prohibits employers from retaliating against applicants based on the request.

This pay transparency law also banned employers from asking applicants about their salary history and using that to determine an applicant’s future wages. Employers are allowed to ask about your salary expectations; however, they aren’t allowed to ask for details about your salary history. 

Across the United States, salary transparency laws are rolling out. To learn more about all the U.S. states, cities and counties where companies have to share salary ranges with workers read this CNBC article which provides a quick summary of all the locations and their laws. According to Payscale, roughly 1 in 4 U.S. workers now live in a place where employers are required to share salary ranges by law at some point in the hiring process.  

As these new laws have been rolled out in a patchwork of legislation, the implementation of them has been mixed. The larger companies with well-thought out and established salary structures have opted to post salary ranges for all U.S. positions whether or not its required by law. Other smaller employers struggle to set meaningful salary ranges and navigate conversations around pay with job candidates and their own employees. For example, some employers are posting positions with very wide salary ranges, i.e., between $50,000 and $1,000,000 in order to comply. Such broad ranges can undermine the purpose of salary transparency laws and frustrate job seekers.

What are some things to keep in mind as you peruse job ads with salary ranges?

  • You should still know your market value – what is the norm for you skills and experience. Sometimes this can be found through sites like,, or through informational interviews with your network. Make sure the ranges posted for job ads work for you!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about salary range such as “Can you help me understand the salary range and what factors might go into where a new hire might fall in that range?” Pay close attention to responses and potential red flags especially if an employer is unable to explain their pay practices and how they use them to pay fairly and equitably. This could indicate other problematic practices at that company as well.
  • While pay is important, remember it is not the only thing. Sometimes positions can be good stepping stones. Also, evaluate whether your values align with those of the organization and make sure you are clear on the other benefits and items of value being offered as well.

Consider Your Roots

Submitted by Erica August 14, 2023

Post written by guest blogger Emily Grugan; Postbac IRTA fellow, OITE Summer Program Staff Assistant

Being a person who enjoys gardening (or, as it is currently in my life, taking care of plants in pots on shelves in my apartment), I recently found myself curious about the different types of root systems. From a quick Google search, I discovered that in general, plants have either taproot or fibrous root systems. Taproots are often deeper, stronger, and live longer, while fibrous roots tend to be smaller, weaker, and shorter-lived. In other words, a taproot plant is more firmly rooted and stable in the soil. (See the image above for visual examples of the two.)

Being a person who also appreciates a good metaphor, this struck me as a particularly versatile one. Bear with me as I explore a few of the possibilities here: 

  1. Soil – Our environments: We, like plants in soil, are “potted” in our various environments – our workplaces, homes, and recreational areas, and the people they consist of
  2. Soil nutrients – Quality of our environments: Soil can be nutrient dense or deficient, fostering a respectively healthy or malnourished plant. Likewise, our environments can be those which nourish us (inspire us, propel us towards our professional goals, replenish our energy stores) or those which drain and deprive us. We might think of this as the amalgam of the tone and quality of the places in which we work/live/play and the interactions we have with people in them.
  3. Root type – Our stability: When a plant is of the taproot variety, it is more difficult to uproot; it is sturdier. Similarly, when we are in a stage of life in which we feel more stable, we too are at lower risk of being uprooted (emotionally overwhelmed, especially anxious, feeling out of control, etc.).
  4. Root strength – Adversity leads to growth: One example of a taproot plant is a tree. Trees need the adversity of strong winds to strengthen their roots. Without this, they will eventually fall for lack of support. Humans, too, are strengthened in the process of weathering storms – our resilience increases, we reinforce or adjust our values, we grow and learn, and we move (hopefully) from knowledge towards wisdom. 

As I consider the health of each of the plants in my apartment, watering them every few days, keeping an eye on the coloring of their leaves, I find myself thinking about humans in a similar light. Perhaps it could be worthwhile every so often to assess the environments in which we have “potted” ourselves, and how they are affecting our sense of stability. Of course, the point of such an exercise would be to identify when an environmental factor (or its absence) might be imposing a negative influence, and then to adjust accordingly. But how? If only it were as simple as a little water and sunlight as in the case of our leafy friends. Although sometimes it might be. Seriously, try drinking a glass of water and sitting in the sun for a few minutes; you may find yourself feeling pretty plant-like after all. In the event that that isn’t enough, here are a few areas you could focus on:

Assess the health of your soil (your environment):

  1. Devote time to fostering positive social relationships (with friends, partners, family, etc.)
  2. Pursue a career field in which you share the values of others in it: If you haven’t found such a career already, consider meeting with a career counselor for guidance (*link to OITE career counselor scheduling page)
    Assess the strength/quality of your roots:
  3. Establish a daily routine: Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, healthy diet, and exercise routine. This allows for the development of a circadian rhythm, the health benefits of which abound. 
  4. Determine a vision toward which to orient: Consider where you are headed. What would you like your life to be like in, for example, 3 years? Plan backwards from that and create a list of yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals by with you can accomplish your goals. 

The Little Things

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch August 28, 2023

Post written by guest blogger Emily Grugan; Postbac IRTA fellow, OITE Summer Program Staff Assistant

There are so many things to do in this life, so many goals to be set and accomplished. Many of us are working towards several right now: graduate school goals, post-grad goals, publication goals, gym/fitness goals, wellbeing goals, financial goals…the list goes on. Sometimes though, our goals can feel daunting. Success in achieving them often involves establishing a list of many smaller goals which, completed one after another, lead to the desired “end”. These smaller goals function like steppingstones laid along the path towards success. This seems simple enough – and yet, we often struggle painfully along from one stone to the next, sometimes pushing them all up to the last minute until they’re more like a confusing pile rather than a neatly laid out path.

Though we hear it often, it can be difficult to remember that the little things add up. But they really do. There are only so many hours in a day, yet each of them gets woven, one into the next, to culminate in the vast and complicated thing we look back on and call “life”. Perhaps because of the vastness, this current hour can feel deceptively insignificant. You think to yourself, “I’ll get to it tomorrow”, or “It’s a Friday; I can put *insert task/goal important to you* off for next week”.

The hard part is, in the moment, it might not feel like we’re making much progress. And perhaps that’s why we put it off. Writing one more paragraph of your paper, for example, but knowing it’s the first draft and likely will be edited down, doesn’t always feel like something we can check off the To-Do list for the day as “progress made”. But the thing is, that is progress. It’s a necessary part of getting from where you are to where you’re going. Furthermore, we might be overestimating our stride, setting steppingstones so far apart they become more like leaping-stones – a path far too strenuous for enjoyment. For example, we may set down “complete literature review” and then nothing until “get first draft written”. However, we have to remember that each of those is comprised of a multitude of steps themselves. You can’t write the first draft without writing the first sentence. And writing the first sentence, even if that is all you do in a day, is progress. It is one of the very many little things you will do to get where you want to go. It is another minute within an hour of your life which is being strung together with the next so that, if spent right, that vastness you look back on in the future will be one which includes, “Published Paper”.

Google says the length of the average sentence is 15-20 words, and that the average length of a scientific article is 4,000 – 6,000 words. If you wrote only one sentence a day for a year, you’d have over 5,000 words: a full paper.

Remember, all you have to do is take one little step at a time. Eventually you’ll find yourself stepping right over one goal and into the next. And don’t forget to acknowledge the former goals, which once seemed distant and out of reach, which you are likely living right now.  


Writing: Communicating Intentionally

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch August 21, 2023

Post written by guest blogger Emily Grugan; Postbac IRTA fellow, OITE Summer Program Staff Assistant

What does it mean to write something? To compile a series of words that, moments prior, were merely amorphous surges of energy in your brain, but which now exist on a page or a screen to be interacted with by yourself and others? To put those words in just such an order so as to induce in their viewer’s brain a desired and reciprocal surge of energy? This process is similar to that of speaking. But the spoken word is different. It is uttered and then lost to the degradation of memory and time (unless it is being done for the sake of recording, in which case, there has likely been at least some writing done in preparation). Words that are written, however, are intended to linger, to remain, to be interacted with again and again, in exactly the order in which their creator has arranged them.

To write something is to communicate a message with intention.

Perhaps this is all a little too philosophical. Either way, writing is a thing that we all do, in some capacity or other, and it is worth considering that intention, especially in the context of career.

Throughout the stages of our careers, we will write many things: cover letters and personal statements, papers for classes, scientific articles, grant proposals, possibly a syllabus for our own class, resumes/CVs, protocols for experimental procedures, and at the very least, emails to people whom we hope to hire us. As important as it is to communicate our intended message in these various contexts, it can take time to learn how to do so in an effective and efficient manner. Here are some examples of strategies and tips you can use to improve your writing:

Consider the intention: This may seem obvious but staying focused on the intention, or aim, of what you are writing can be a helpful practice. When working on a longer project, it is easy to get a little lost in the weeds, accidentally going down unnecessary writing tangents. Try writing a one or two sentence summary of the main point(s) you intend to convey with your writing. You can refer back to this as you go. For example, if you are writing a personal statement, it may not be the time to display your creative writing skills with flowery language and lengthy description (unless of course you are applying to a creative writing program). While that may be a strength of yours, the aim of the statement is to communicate your relevant skills and experiences, as well as your interest in the program, in a clear and concise manner.

Consider your audience: Different audiences will want different things from your writing. For example, if you are drafting an email to your supervisor, consider how they prefer to be communicated with in-person. Do they tend toward short, direct, facts-over-fluff conversation? Or do you instead find them asking for the details, wanting to know the whole picture? While you will tend to write/communicate in one of these directions yourself, your words might not be as effective if you aren’t considering the person who will be reading them. Likewise with scientific writing: does your reader have a background in your subject area, or are you writing to a more general audience? These two articles could have the same intention but should be worded very differently.   

Set aside uninterrupted time: If you have a larger, on-going project, designate as consistent a time each day (or week, depending on your schedule) for writing that you can. If you have a varying schedule, you could instead try establishing a weekly “writing hours” or word count goal. Then, plan out at the beginning of each week when you will have time to work towards that goal. Establishing a routine helps you write more efficiently, allowing necessary time for proofreading and editing, rather than waiting until the last minute.