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Women Don’t Negotiate Salary: Truth Or Myth?

Posted: October 27, 2014

Women do negotiate for salary in some cases, when it is clear that they will not be penalised for negotiating. Are we ready to close the gender gap on wages?

A recent study at the University of Chicago has clearly shown that women are now as willing and as pushy when it comes to negotiating for salary at the workplace as their male counterparts, which is another pointer to the narrowing gender gap.

Of late, women have been acting tougher at the workplace as well and are as willing to negotiate for the right salary as their male colleagues, as shown by a study conducted by John List, a senior Economics Professor at the University of Chicago, and his team.

Men, who have traditionally taken digs at women for their penny-pinching ways and then try hard to wheedle out the best bargain in every possible situation, would probably not like being corrected and told what John List has to say:

”Men, however, are more likely than women to ask for more money when there is no explicit statement in a job description that wages are negotiable. We find that simple manipulations of the contract environment can significantly shift the gender composition of the applicant pool.”

The results of the study also clearly pointed out that the probability of applying for jobs with negotiable wages was more among women. They were found to be thrice as likely to apply for such jobs. Women were also found to pursue negotiations with more enthusiasm!

When do women negotiate salary?

In the absence of any mention of salary being negotiable, 8% female and 11% of the male applicants were found to initiate salary discussions and try to get the best possible deal from their prospective bosses.

The mere mention of the salary being ‘NEGOTIABLE’ was found to change the whole scenario. In such cases, 24% women and 22% men were found to start salary discussions. (Can I see some male readers chuckling there?)

“By merely adding the information that the wage is ‘negotiable,’ we successfully reduced the gender gap in applications by approximately 45 per cent,” List said.

The findings of the study, which were published in a paper titled, “Do Women Avoid Salary Negotiations?”, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, USA have again given rise to a debate on the topic since women have conventionally been seen to shy away from negotiating for better deals at the workplace.

Not too long ago, a study conducted by Linda Babcock, had suggested that “Women don’t ask”, where she had clearly pointed out that women do not negotiate because they know that it’d hurt them if they do. And the ones who actually did it actually harmed their job prospects.

Women who negotiated for jobs were found to be 5.5 times less likely to be actually chosen as compared to their male counterparts, because such women are perceived as “over-demanding”. “Women don’t negotiate for salary because they are not idiots”, Babcock had pointed out (PDF).

Employers, she pointed out, are more likely to go in for women employees who are “nicer”. (I would prefer to read that as dumber, though). Or, does it mean that bosses are scared of ambitious women or have a strong aversion to them?

How do you react to women speaking up?

Satya Nadella recently stirred a hornet’s nest by suggesting women should not negotiate and ask for pay raises, preferring to wait for karma to reach out instead! This is something I have already written about this, on this very website. His views, which simply echo the male sentiment, came as a shock for many, for someone as well read and intelligent as him and in his position is expected to behave more responsibly.

The very Indians who had been bursting into thunderous applause every time he interacted with the public on each of his statements poisoned their spears for Nadella for having said that.

What do you have to say about women negotiating for better deals for the services rendered by them? How would YOU react to a woman negotiating for a better deal for herself at the workplace?

Aren’t they as entitled to asking for a better pay scale and perks as their male colleagues? Then, why this bias against them?

Waiting to hear from all readers.

Negotiation concept image via Shutterstock 

Freelance writer, eBook author and blogger.

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