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How Women Can Effectively Negotiate Improvements in their Employment Terms

By Charles B. Craver

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Despite the enactment of the Equal Pay Act [29 U.S.C. § 206(d)] fifty years ago mandating equal pay for women performing work equal to that performed by men in terms of skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions, the earnings of women continue to lag well behind those of their male cohorts. A critical factor concerns the fact that males tend to bargain more over their compensation levels than their female counterparts. (see generally Linda Babcock & Sara Laschever, Women Don’t Ask (2003); see also Linda Babcock & Sara Laschever, Ask For It (2008)) Why do men feel more comfortable engaging in such bargaining interactions than women, and what can women do to advance their own economic interests through the bargaining process?


When men and women are asked how much they should be paid for the performance of specific tasks, men expect to be paid more than women. (Babcock & Laschever, 2003, at 42-43). This factor helps to explain why when men and women are offered initial salaries, men are more likely to suggest that they deserve more and request more generous compensation. This critical difference may be partially based upon the fact that young boys who are asked by parents to wash the car or mow the lawn are expected to be compensated for such masculine tasks, while young girls who are asked to wash the dishes, clean the house, or baby sit for their younger siblings are frequently not paid for those feminine endeavors.

Studies also indicate that male performance tends to be over-valued, while female success tends to be under-valued. When men are successful, their achievements are usually attributed to intrinsic factors such as intelligence and hard work. On the other hand, when women are successful, their accomplishments tend to be attributed to extrinsic factors such as the assistance of others or the fact the tasks they performed were not really that challenging. This gender-based bias makes it easier for males to request compensation increases, due to the fact they get more credit for their endeavors than their female colleagues.

How Women Can Effectively Negotiate Improvements in their Employment Terms By Charles B. Craver


Copyright © 2013 Charles B. Craver
Copyright ©   2013  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  October 2013