Most of us have heard this statistic: women earn about 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, known as the raw gender wage gap. When the wage gap is adjusted to account for occupation, hours worked, experience, and more, we still see an adjusted wage gap of about 93 to 95 cents per dollar. So why does the wage gap persist, even when all factors are equal?
Negotiation is a frequent suspect, since most studies suggest that women negotiate less often than men. Even more concerning, women who do negotiate are usually less successful than men. So are men simply better negotiators than women? This doesn’t appear to be the case.
In fact, research shows that women and men fare equally when negotiating on behalf of other people. Unfortunately, women who negotiate on behalf of themselves are more likely to face social backlash than men, as negotiation is sometimes perceived as “pushy” or self-interested behavior in women but as confident and independent behavior in men.
In other words, men are socially conditioned to enter negotiations often and assertively while women face greater social pressures to be polite and to carefully reason out why their interests are valid and mutually beneficial. Otherwise, they risk not getting the job, losing career momentum, damaging work relationships, or facing other social backlash. Hypocritical? Definitely. But women are already undoing stereotypes and changing negotiation expectations by increasingly filling leadership positions and entering into more negotiations. Moreover, the tactics that disproportionately benefit women are, in fact, useful to all negotiators: preparing beforehand, taking an I-we relational approach, expressing confidence but not arrogance, engaging in active listening, forming alliances, and more.
Interested in improving your negotiation skills or becoming a better ally for women negotiators? Skye’s forthcoming Negotiation for Women in Business course explores strategies for successfully negotiating, bargaining, managing conflict, and more—especially as these concepts relate to women. Plus, you can certify your negotiation abilities and other leadership skills by enrolling in Skye’s upcoming Certificate in Leadership for Women in Business.