Women negotiate salaries less frequently than men, leading to a persistent compensation gaps for women MBA graduates from 26 leading business schools in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia, reported Catalyst’s Anna Beninger and Alixandra Pollack.
Women still earn about 80 percent of their male peers’ compensation in a study of salaries in academic medicine by Harvard’s Catherine DesRoches, Sowmya Rao, Lisa Iezzoni, and Eric Campbell with Darren Zinner of Brandeis.
Likewise, Carnegie Mellon’s Linda Babcock reported that women MBAs earn USD $500,000 – USD $2 million less than their male classmates over their careers, and she linked this to men’s greater willingness to negotiate salary and promotions.
Babcock, with Sara Laschever, outlined precursors of these negotiation differences based on gender socialization.
They posited that many parents encourage boys to take risks, earn money, and participate in competitive team sports.
In contrast, they suggested that parents more often encourage girls to play collaboratively and value interpersonal affiliation.
These practices enable boys to negotiate, compete, and tolerate disrupted interpersonal relationships, according to Babcock and Laschever.
The gender-based wage gap’s association with women not negotiating salaries and preferring less competitive work roles, was also reported by University of Chicago’s John List, Andreas Leibbrandt, and Jeffrey Flory.
Their research studied respondents to two identical job ads on internet job boards with different wage structures.
One position offered hourly pay whereas the other role’s pay depended on performance compared with coworkers.
More women than men applied to the hourly wage role.
Men were 94 percent more likely than women to seek and perform well in competitive work roles in a study of nearly 7,000 job seekers across 16 large American cities.
This gender wage gap “more than doubled” as performance-linked compensation increased.
Women were significantly more likely to walk away from a competitive workplace when they had alternate employment options.
In contrast, women were more likely to apply to jobs if the performance relied on teamwork rather than individual accomplishment, or if the salary was a flat fee independent of their performance.
Men were also more likely to negotiate when there was no explicit statement that wages are negotiable.
They did not wait for an invitation or permission to negotiate.
In contrast, women negotiated as frequently as men when they were invited to ask for higher salaries and job titles.
Negotiation practices considered “acceptable” for men are often viewed as “aggressive” when women use them, according to Babcock.
To counteract this reaction, she and Laschever advised women to:
- Consider that “everything is negotiable,”
- Research personal “market worth” using online resources like Salary.com, Payscale.com, and Glassdoor.com,
- Consider oneself a viable candidate for higher salaries and job roles,
- Examine self-limiting beliefs about negotiation,
- Plan negotiation talking points, including, accomplishments, results, impact,
- Practice negotiation proposal, suggest timing, set an ambitious anchor point, prepare for objections,
- Plan counter-offers and self-regulation to maintain negotiation position and interpersonal rapport.
Collaborative negotiation enables both people to derive value from the negotiation conversation through preparation and stamina, while focusing on the negotiation goal and providing value for all parties.
Negotiation principles were summarized in the classic Getting to Yes: Negotiating without Giving In by Harvard’s Roger Fisher and William Ury.
More recently, Ohio State’s Roy Lewicki, David Saunders of Queen’s University, and Vanderbilt’s Bruce Barry of Vanderbilt detailed their research-based guide to Negotiation.
More than 90% of all negotiators fail to ask “diagnostic questions” that reveal the negotiation partner’s most important needs, priorities, preferences, and even fears, found Leigh Thompson of Northwestern.
Eliciting this information is associated with significantly improved negotiation outcomes.
Television journalist Mika Brzezinski echoed Babcock and Laschever’s recommendations based on interviews with prominent women and men about the persistent gender wage gap.
She suggested a structure to guide negotiation:
Women’s reluctance to negotiate may be related to gender differences in attributions of success and failure, suggested Pat Heim.
Women attribute failures to themselves (“internalizing”) whereas men identify external factors (“rationalizations”) associated with their shortcomings.
In contrast, women attribute success to external factors (“deflection of merit”). Men typically attribute their effective performance to to themselves (“self-bolstering”).
Men are often promoted because they are seen to have “potential,” whereas women are promoted based on their results and accomplishments, noted Heim.
Even factors like attire can influence perception of authority: Men judged women as less authoritative when wearing “business casual” attire.
Women can systematically develop skills and behaviors required to close the well-documented wage gap between professional women and men.
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