Women negotiate higher salaries from female bosses

It’s really because they won’t ask a man for more money, or ask him as aggressively as they will a woman.

That’s an underexplored factor in the dilemma over why women make so much less money than men, according to a report on Alternet, and a book that looks at the differences between how men and women negotiate.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make 78 cents for each dollar men earn—and it’s not just a U.S. problem, the article says, pointing out that the pay differential in Australia is 15 cents and in the European Union it’s 16 cents.

And while there’s plenty of research on the role discrimination plays in the wage gap, as well as the differences in types of work and gender differences in academic training, the report says, there’s another factor that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention.

Enter Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide (2009), coauthored by economist Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, as well as the research paper “Women ask for less (only from men): Evidence from bargaining in the field” in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Says the report, “[W]omen negotiating their salaries ask for lower compensation when the firm’s representative is a man than when that representative is a woman.”

According to the book, it’s more necessary than ever for women to negotiate salaries, not only since women’s salaries have stagnated relative to men’s at 73.2 percent but also because just between May of 2001 and May of 2002, 39 percent of U.S. workers changed jobs.

Most women now work outside the home and single mothers are more common than ever.

Yet women don’t like to negotiate, the stats indicate, with 2.5 times more women than men saying they feel “a great deal of apprehension” about doing so and men initiating negotiations about four times more often than women.

Women compare it to “going to the dentist,” while men compare it to “winning a ball game” or a “wrestling match,” and they’ll also “pay as much as $1,353 to avoid negotiating the price of a car.”

They already ask for less in negotiations, but the factor that’s not mentioned is that they’ll ask for more money from a woman boss than they will from a man. They’re less aggressive in their negotiations with men, but when negotiating with a woman, they’re just as aggressive.

Says the report, “[S]ince managers and bosses are usually men (making them, by virtue of their position, the empowered party), female workers will be less likely than male workers to ask for raises and promotions. In addition, when they do, they will ask for less, which contributes to increasing the gender pay gap.”

If women need encouragement to work on their negotiating skills, they should consider this statistic from the book’s website on the results of another study: “[W]omen who consistently negotiate their salary increases earn at least $1 million more during their careers than women who don’t.”

Posted 11:00 AM

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