In a recent post on Chronicle Vitae, I talk about recent research on unconscious gender bias in negotiation, and what that means for how women might approach workplace negotiations. The research suggests that unconscious bias tends to make people give women who aggressively negotiate what they want, but with significant social penalties that may make working with the people they negotiated with more difficult.
Negotiation is fraught for women in ways that it is not for men. And that has consequences for how much women are willing to negotiate — if at all. Many women don’t negotiate because they recognize, consciously or subconsciously, that negotiating is dangerous and can easily backfire.
We’re right to sense and act on that danger. Hannah Riley Bowles, a senior lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, has conducted research that demonstrates that this is exactly what happens. A 2014 essay in The New Yorker, “Lean Out: The Dangers for Women Who Negotiate,” described Bowles’s findings: “In four studies, Bowles and collaborators from Carnegie Mellon found that people penalized women who initiated negotiations for higher compensation more than they did men. The effect held whether they saw the negotiation on video or read about it on paper, whether they viewed it from a disinterested third-party perspective or imagined themselves as senior managers in a corporation evaluating an internal candidate.”
Catch the rest of the article, and my advice on negotiating while female (or female-presenting) here.