Women less frequently negotiate initial salaries than men, leading to a long-term wage disparity, argued Carnegie-Mellon University’s Linda Babcock.
In addition, women who negotiate were negatively evaluated by both men and women participants in a lab study, reported Harvard’s Hannah Riley Bowles and Lei Lai.
Likewise volunteers reported less desire to work with women who asked for more money.
Both male and female evaluators said they disliked “demandingness” among women who negotiated, and said they preferred “nicer” non-negotiators.
However, reducing women’s degree of assertiveness did not improve evaluators’s perceptions of women negotiators.
These findings support Babcock’s original results: When male and female volunteers asked for salary increases using identical scripts in controlled lab situations, participants liked men’s style, but disliked the same words from women.
Women negotiators were considered “aggressive” unless they smiled, or displayed a warm, friendly manner.
The social reaction others had to women negotiators, but not the negotiation outcome, was improved when female participants:
- Justified the salary request based on a supporting “business case,”
- Communicated concern for organizational relationships.
However, neither of these tactics used alone or together, improved women’s negotiation outcomes.
Another approach was more effective in improving both social and negation outcomes:
- Justifying the salary request based on the relationship.
Women who smile and focus on the interpersonal relationship enact role-based expectations, leading to greater comfort with these women negotiators and more favorable assessments by male and female observers.
Bowles, with Harvard colleague Kathleen McGinn and Babcock, suggested that “situational ambiguity” and “gender triggers” modify women’s willingness to negotiate.
However, when women have information about the potential salary range and whether the salary is negotiable, they are more likely to negotiate.
This suggests that women can improve their negotiation outcomes by asking:
- the salary range,
- which elements of the compensation package are negotiable.
Effective negotiation is a survival skill, according to Dan Pink:
“The ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness.
It has helped our species evolve, lifted our living standards, and enhanced our daily lives.”
Effective persuaders and “sellers” collaborate in “inspecting” a negotiation and “responding” to the negotiation through “interpersonal attunement.”
Foundational skills for negotiation include Pink’s ABCs:
– Attunement: Harmonizing actions and attitudes with others,
– Buoyancy: “Positivity,” optimistic “explanatory style,” asking questions,
– Clarity: Helping others re-assess situations to identify unrecognized needs that can be fulfilled by the negotiation proposal.
UC Hastings College of the Law’s Joan Williams offered strategies to address documented wage discrepancies.
As more women negotiate salaries, managers may view this as an expected practice.
- What is the best negotiation pitch you’ve heard for a job-related salary increase or role promotion?
- How did the person overcome objections?
- How did the person manage the relationship with the negotiating partner?
- Negotiation Style Differences: Women Don’t Ask for Raises or Promotions as Often as Men
- “Everything is Negotiable”: Prepare, Ask, Revise, Ask Again
- Power Tactics for Better Negotiation