Tag Archives: Kathleen McGinn

Women Balance on the Negotiation Tightrope to Avoid Backlash

Linda Babcock

Women less frequently negotiate initial salaries than men, leading to a long-term wage disparity, reported Carnegie-Mellon University’s Linda Babcock.

Hannah Riley Bowles

Women who did negotiate were negatively evaluated by both men and women participants in a lab study, found Harvard’s Hannah Riley Bowles and Lei Lai.
These volunteers reported less desire to work with women who asked for more money.

Lei Lai

Lei Lai

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 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 to women negotiators was improved when female participants:

  • Justified the salary request based on a supporting “business case,”
  • Communicated concern for organizational relationships.

Applying these tactics did not improve women’s negotiation outcomes, but improved other people’s reactions to women negotiators.

In contrast, women negotiators improved both social and negotiation outcomes when they justified the salary request based on the relationship.

Women who smile and focus on the interpersonal relationship fulfill gender role expectations, leading to greater approval by male and female observers.

Kathleen McGinn

Kathleen McGinn

Bowles, with Harvard colleague Kathleen McGinn and Babcock, suggested that “situational ambiguity” and “gender triggers” modify women’s willingness to negotiate.

When women have information about the potential salary range and whether the salary is negotiable, they are more likely to negotiate.
Women can improve their negotiation outcomes by asking:

  • the salary range,
  • which elements of the compensation package are negotiable.
Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink

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.

He noted that effective persuaders and “sellers” collaborate in “inspecting” a negotiation and “responding” to the negotiation through “interpersonal attunement.”

Pink suggested ABC negotiation skills:

Attunement: Aligning actions and attitudes with others,

Buoyancy:  “Positivity,” optimism, asking questions,

Clarity:  Helping others identify unrecognized needs that can be fulfilled by the negotiation proposal.

Joan Williams

Joan Williams

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?

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©Kathryn Welds


Female and Minority Supervisor Influence

Katherine L. Milkman

Wharton operations and information management professor Katherine L. Milkman and Harvard Business School professor Kathleen L. McGinn, investigated how race and gender affect career mobility for young professionals, especially those entering career fields where they must be promoted to remain (law firms, universities, consulting firms).

Kathleen L. McGinn

They examined five years of personnel data and employee interviews from a large national law firm and found a correlation between the number of female supervisors and the probability of promotion and retention of junior-level female employees, published in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge as “Looking Up and Looking Out: Career Mobility Effects of Demographic Similarity among Professionals.”

The enabling benefit of demographically similar employees and supervisors was accompanied by a perhaps surprising correlation.
Work groups with a high number of same-gender or same-race underrepresented minorities had a higher attrition rate, attributed to employees’ perception that the competition reduced their chances for promotion.

Milkman and McGinn noted that placing many underrepresented employees (women and underrepresented minorities) in the same group may lead to structural marginalization, or “ghettoes” of low-power.
This effect was present in groups composed mostly of men.
In contrast, the exit decisions of white and Asian employees did not seem affected by working in groups with other white and Asian employees.

The researchers cited the massively unequal representation of women and minorities among partners in professional services organizations.
A 2009 study that showed women made up 46% of associates but 19% of partners across U.S. law firms, and racial minorities represented 20% of the lawyers across the country but only 6% of partners.

Milkman is currently analyzing data on the role that race and gender play in sponsorship or patronage in academia.
She sent emails to 6,500 professors at academic institutions across the country from purported male, female, white, or minority “students”  requesting a 10-minute meeting for one-time mentoring, either that day or next week.

She found that “female” and “minority” students received significantly fewer responses from prospective mentors, particularly when asked for assistance in the future.
She noted that these findings contrast with the popular expectation of less overt or unconscious discrimination in academic settings.

-*How have you seem race and gender affect career mobility in the past year?

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