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While thinking which topic to cover during a week of active writing on woman issues, received my newsletter from Program on Negotiation at Harvard law school with titled – “Women at a loss? Here’s the bad news … and the good”… Copying the first part with some additional sources and research papers.

Women really do operate at a disadvantage in the workplace. And even though everyone (guys included) may be paying a price in lower overall organizational success, that’s cold comfort to women who feel excluded from the process.

But women have ways to offset their disadvantages, say experts at the Harvard Program on Negotiation. We’ll examine some of these in a moment. First, though, let’s look at recent discoveries about what holds women back.
* Men ask, women don’t. Experiments led by Prof. Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz School of Public Policy determined that, in general, men initiate negotiations to advance their interests about four times more often than women do. Taking 2002 Heinz graduates as subjects, she found that only 12.5% of women graduating with master’s degrees negotiated their starting salaries – vs. 51.5% of male graduates. Over the life of their careers, Prof. Babcock calculated, this cost the women at least $1 million in income.

* Stereotypes worsen the problem. The persistent belief that women are worse negotiators than men aggravates the situation. It’s a stereotype that affects both genders, according to researchers Laura Kray (University of Arizona) and Leigh Thompson and Adam Galinsky (Northwestern University). In one experiment, women represented themselves as well as men did when told the task was a learning tool; but worse when told their performance reflected their abilities. The opportunity to compete seemed to affect female and male subjects the opposite way: the women choked, but the men seemed energized.

* Things get hairy-er. Then Kray, Thompson and Galinsky threw in several fascinating new variables. When they told all subjects – male and female – that certain stereotypically feminine traits (verbal expressiveness, good listening skills, empathy) led to negotiation success, the women outperformed the men. But when all subjects were told these traits led to negotiation failure, the men outperformed the women.

* Yes, there really is a backlash. More recently, Babcock and other colleagues have run experiments indicating that both male and female subjects were less willing to work with a woman who tried to negotiate her salary than one who didn’t. Females in the experiment also penalized males who asked for more money – but males in the experiment did not.

What’s a woman to do? If she doesn’t speak up for herself, she risks being mistreated and underpaid. But if she does, she may be penalized. Three pieces of advice by The Harvard Program on Negotiation.

1. Collaborate. Explore the other side’s interests. Engage in joint problem-solving. Use influence strategies rather than coercion and demands. It not only may boost your personal advantage – it also may grow the pie for everyone.

2. Connect. Connect your goals to those of the organization – and demonstrate how giving you a bigger paycheck or more resources will help everyone in the long run.

3. Navigate. In the battle between the sexes, rocks and shoals lurk in the depths. Successful women need to be aware of deep-seated attitudes and prejudices that are part of a “shadow negotiation” that goes deeper than the issues at stake. While this isn’t easy to counter, it’s not impossible. For example, instead of backing down in the face of demeaning talk from her boss, a woman might recognize a power tactic and counter with: ‘Can you explain why you feel that way?’

You knew it all along: Life isn’t fair. Perhaps what you didn’t know, though, is that … you can do something about it.

That’s all from Harvard newsletter. Check also Negotiating Challenges for Women Leaders. Now other sources for future reading…

White Papers & Articles from NegotiatingWomen.com – here

● A woman’s guide to successful negotiating – here

● Women don’t ask: the high cost of avoiding negotiation and positive strategies for change – here

● Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want – here

● Negotiation: strategies for mutual gain – here

● Listening to Women: New Perspectives on Negotiation – here /strongly recommended/

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