Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Negotiation Epilogue: Women Don't Ask

  1. In a study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University, a professor found that among students graduating with Masters Degrees, 57 %of men and only 8 % of women negotiated the salary for the first job they received upon graduation.
  2. At age 22, a qualified man and women are offered the same job at $25,000/year. The man negotiates and get his offer raised to $30,000. The woman does not. Each of them receives a 3% raise per year. At age 60, the man will be making over $15,000/year more than the woman ($92,243 vs. $76,870). If you count up all the extra earnings over the 30 years, the man will have made $361, 171 more than the woman.
  3. A web survey reveals that women report much more anxiety about negotiation then men, and this can be true of even extremely powerful and successful women.
  4. When they do negotiate, women tend to be less successful than men, setting lower targets and giving in more quickly.

In the book Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation and Positive Strategies for Change, Linda Banock and Sara Laschever explore the phenomena listed above and the societal double standards that support them. They focus a lot on the gender norms that pervade our society and reward assertive behavior in men while punishing the same behavior in women. Some of the things they say I don't entirely agree with: one of the points they spend a lot of time on is that women are much more relationship-focused than men, leading them to emphasize relationships over getting what they want. While I see this as potentially possible (and totally true for me) I am loathe to generalize that much about women, or anyone.

However, they do make some incredible points about women and negotiation and the way that societal double standards create a triple whammy against women by
  1. Teaching them that assertiveness and self-interest isn't ladylike;
  2. Punishing women for assertive behavior (through things such as the "Bully Broads" program which was created to "soften" female executives. Gross) BUT THEN
  3. Viewing them as weak when they fail to demonstrate assertive behavior or negotiate on their own behalves.
I could go on and on here. And this isn't about marriage per se, except that in a lot of marriages there is at least one woman. And that if we women aren't thinking about these things and striving to work against them we may stand to lose out in ways that will affect our professions and our personal lives. That is one of the reasons that I have been writing these posts; because I truly believe that women need be encouraged to be assertive. I, as a woman, feel the need to encourage other women to negotiate.

To help you on your way here are the books I have been referencing, with brief descriptions.

  • This book is a little text-booky, and dense. But I got a lot of the information from the first two posts from this book.
2) Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton
  • This book looks like a silly self-help book. And...it may be a little bit of a silly self-help book. But it is also a quick read with a lot of easy, simple, good tips. It is also around $10. The stuff I wrote about focusing on interests over positions is from this book, mostly.
3) Women Don't Ask (mentioned above)
  • I only read a few chapters of this book (hey, I was only given a few chapters!) but I might read the whole thing. The website (linked above) talks about the broader topic of women and negotiation and I think features more books with specific tips
4) Beyond Reason by Roger Fisher and Dan Shapiro
  • Okay, so I haven't actually read this one at all. But I will! The woman who taught my negotiations class, who I deeply respect, recommended this to the class. Again, may be a little embarrassing to read on the bus as it looks like a self-help book, but whatever. We can just practice not caring what other people think of us.
Happy Negotiating!


  1. Thanks for the crib sheet! Duly added to my wish list.

  2. I wish I would have been this assertive and awesome when I applied for my job 2 years ago (21 years old).

  3. Yea, me too. But there's still time!