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Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide

In their book, Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, Linda Babcock and Lara Laschever look at the barriers holding women back and the social forces constraining them.They show how to women can reframe their interactions and more accurately evaluate their opportunities to more effectively negotiate for salary and other resources that are essential for career advancement.They show how to recognize the ways in which our institutions, child-rearing practices, and unspoken assumptions perpetuate inequalities – inequalities that are not only fundamentally unfair but also inefficient and economically unsound.

Research findings reported in Women Don’t Ask:

Women Don’t Like to Negotiate

  • In surveys, 2.5 times more women than men said they feel “a great deal of apprehension” about negotiating.
  • Men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women.
  • When asked to pick metaphors for the process of negotiating, men picked “winning a ballgame” and a “wrestling match,” while women picked “going to the dentist.”
  • Women will pay as much as $1,353 to avoid negotiating the price of a car, which may help explain why 63 percent of Saturn car buyers are women.
  • Women are more pessimistic about the how much is available when they do negotiate and so they typically ask for and get less when they do negotiate—on average, 30 percent less than men.
  • 20 percent of adult women (22 million people) say they never negotiate at all, even though they often recognize negotiation as appropriate and even necessary.

Women Suffer When They Don’t Negotiate

  • By not negotiating a first salary, an individual stands to lose more than $500,000 by age 60—and men are more than four times as likely as women to negotiate a first salary.
  • In one study, eight times as many men as women graduating with master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon negotiated their salaries. The men who negotiated were able to increase their starting salaries by an average of 7.4 percent, or about $4,000. In the same study, men’s starting salaries were about $4,000 higher than the women’s on average, suggesting that the gender gap between men and women might have been closed if more of the women had negotiated their starting salaries.
  • Another study calculated that women who consistently negotiate their salary increases earn at least $1 million more during their careers than women who don’t.
  • In 2001 in the U.S. women held only 2.5 percent of the top jobs at American companies and only 10.9 percent of the board of directors’ seats at Fortune 1000 companies.
  • Women own about 40 percent of all businesses in the U.S. but receive only 2.3 percent of the available equity capital needed for growth. Male-owned companies receive the other 97.7. percent.

Women Have Lower Expectations and Lack Knowledge of their Worth

  • Many women are so grateful to be offered a job that they accept what they are offered and don’t negotiate their salaries.
  • Women often don’t know the market value of their work: Women report salary expectations between 3 and 32 percent lower than those of men for the same jobs; men expect to earn 13 percent more than women during their first year of full-time work and 32 percent more at their career peaks.

 

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