You know a business idea has made the big-time when it appears in a Dilbert comic strip. In the 2007 October 17 strip a female employee complains that her male colleague has a second monitor, while she does not. The boss responds by telling her that research shows men ask for more, so men get more, but she can complain if she wants.
Much of that research is cited in the book “Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation–and Positive Strategies for Change” by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever (Bantam Books, 2007). This well- researched, highly readable volume is loaded with details of scientific studies on gender, negotiation, compensation, and much more. It is balanced with anecdotes that personalize the issues and show how they play out in both corporate and personal interactions.
The research cited shows that women (in general) do not ask as often, don’t ask for as much, and settle for less. Women expect life to be fair, are more likely to be satisfied with what they have, and expect others to notice and reward their accomplishments. Men are willing to ask for what they want and think they deserve, and will push harder to get it. Men tend to treat negotiations as a competition, where they are trying to get the biggest piece of the pie for themselves. Women tend to have a more collaborative approach, sharing information to find out what each side really wants, then finding ways to enlarge the pie so each can get what they need.
The final chapters talk about positive changes women and men can make to improve their negotiation skills. Men and women can learn from each other’s styles, and use their own strengths to their best advantage. Overall, a fascinating book with valuable insights.
This article was written by Lisa M. Balbes, Ph.D. of Balbes Consultants.