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Women Don't Ask:
Negotiation and the Gender Divide
Linda Babcock & Sara Laschever

Runner-up, IPPY Best Book Award, Women's Issues

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Surprising Facts about Women and Negotiation

It's Now More Necessary for Women to Negotiate Than Ever Before

  • Between May 2001 and May 2002, 39 percent of the American workforce changed jobs.

  • In 2000, 76.8 percent of women aged 25 to 54 worked outside the home.

  • The divorce rate hovers at 50 percent.

  • Union membership is down 33 percent since 1983.

  • Women's earnings relative to men's has stagnated at 73.2 percent.

Women Don't Like to Negotiate

  • 2.5 times more women than men said they feel "a great deal of apprehension" about negotiating.

  • Men initiate negotiations about four times more often than women.

  • When asked to pick metaphors for negotiations, 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 explain why 63 percent of Saturn car buyers are women.

  • Women are more pessimistic about the rewards available, and so come away with less when they do negotiate--on average, 30 percent less than men.

  • 20 percent of women (22 million people) say they never negotiate at all, even though they recognize negotiation as appropriate and even necessary.

  • In the late 1990s, Jean Hollands started the "Bully Broads" program, charging $18,000 to "modify" or "reform" tough women by teaching the how to be "nicer."

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 more likely than women to negotiate a first salary.

  • Starting salaries for men graduating from Carnegie Mellon were 7.6 percent higher than for women--a difference of almost $4000--and, through negotiation, the men were able to improve their starting salaries by 7.4 percent, or about $4000.

  • In 2001 in the U.S. only 10.9 percent of the board of directors' seats at Fortune 1000 companies were held by women.

  • 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.

Women Have Lower Expectations and Lack Knowledge of their Worth

  • Many people are so happy with a job offer that they fail to negotiate their salary.

  • Women don't know their market value: women reported salary expectations between 3 and 32 percent lower than those of men for the same job; men expect to earn 13 percent more during their first year of full-time work and 32 percent more at their career peak.

Quotations from the authors' interviews

  • Marcela, nuclear engineer: "I would never ask for [a bonus]. If it wasn't freely given, I wouldn't ask for it. I might gripe about it at home, but that would be the extent of it."

  • Ellen, senior partner at a law firm, "[My father told me], 'Honey, you know you can't act like a tiger. You have to act like a kitten.'"

  • Becky, a journalist: "When I go into a negotiation . . . I think about maintaining that relationship before I think about my own [needs] really."

  • Gabriela, symphony orchestra general manger: "I just said thank you [for a raise]. . . . [The board members] are probably wondering--how good can she be at negotiating [for the orchestra] if she can't even negotiate for herself."

  • Susannah, political strategist: "I just feel so guilty. I worry that I'm putting them in a difficult situation, especially if I'm asking for something that I think will be hard for them to give to me."

  • Eleanor, literature professor and biographer: "When it came down to it, I backed down because I didn't want [my editor] to hate me."

  • Lindsey, research chemist: "I get so nervous in negotiating that I capitulate very quickly."

  • Helena, advertising executive: "I'm better at asking for other people, and I can be really direct . . . but not so much for myself."

  • Stephanie, administrative assistant: "I tend to think people are pretty fair, so maybe I'm too trusting and expect that I'm getting what I deserve in that I work really hard."

  • Christine, investment banker: "I think it's up to the people that you work for . . . to identify [superior work] and keep current with what's in the industry."

  • Angela, marketing director: "I don't think I ever want something that's that far out of my reach."

  • Joan, magazine editor: "I was so naiive and clueless, and I just had never really made a lot of money in my life, and I didn't need a lot of money, so what I asked for seemed like a lot of money. And it was just not a lot of money."

  • Stephanie, drive-time radio host: "I thought it would be taking advantage [to renegotiate my salary] of an opportunity [a job offer] but an unfair advantage."

  • Lory, theater production manager: "I have a hard time putting a monetary figure on the work that I do."

  • Emma, social science researcher: "I realized . . . that I could have really negotiated for much more. . . but I didn't. Because I accepted, 'Oh, I want to tie in with the range. I should feel lucky I have this job."

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File created: 7/07/2003

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