What Women Often Get Wrong In Salary Negotiations

Female Negotiation

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When it comes to salary negotiations, women get the worse end of the deal. Not only are women less comfortable negotiators, but their attempts to negotiate are viewed less positively than those of men. Therefore women face a number of challenges before they even begin!


One of the questions Linda Babcock asked people during a study for her book Women Don’t Ask is, “When you got your offer, did you attempt to negotiate?” She found that about 7% of women attempted to negotiate, while 57% of men did. Of those people who negotiated, they were able to increase their salary by over 7%.

So what do women get wrong?

Firstly, they don’t prepare for them or spend time evaluating how much they should be getting and why. They also have much lower expectations and therefore will accept less as a result. Women also tend

to worry that negotiating may damage relationships and personal reputation, so they prefer to steer clear of it altogether.

Women also often think that if they do a great job then they will be recognised and rewarded accordingly, whereas men tend to pursue their career ambitions more aggressively. This strategy often fails,
unless you have
a very observant manager, because as with many of the good things you do for people – they don’t notice until you stop doing it.

Interestingly, women outperform men
in representational negotiations – that is, negotiating for someone else. As a woman, it is unacceptable for me to be greedy on my own, but it’s completely acceptable for me to negotiate for someone else because that’s taking care of someone.

Female CEOs of moderate-size to large organizations often say they have no problem negotiating on behalf of their company, but asking the Board of Directors for a raise? That is just too hard.

It’s not always women getting it wrong

Unfortunately the cards are already stacked against women when it comes to salary. A recent study showed that when managers faced a scenario in which they would have to explain raises they were awarding to staff, they were likely to give men raises two-and-a-half times as large as the raises for female workers of equal skills and experience.

However, when the managers faced a scenario in which they would award the raises without explanation, they gave equal raises to the men and the women. The reasons for this are unclear, so we can only assume that the managers felt less comfortable celebrating the triumphs of women than men.

Don’t be disheartened though. The better women are at negotiating (and the more often we do it), the more we’ll start to break down the prejudices that lead managers to make it even harder for us.

How can women negotiate better?

Start by reframing the way you see negotiations and putting yourself first. If you were representing you in this scenario (which you are, by the way) what would you ask for/accept/reject?

Raise your expectations and decide to negotiate! You have the skill set, knowledge, and experience for the job and you deserve to receive a salary that reflects this. So don’t be “grateful” for any salary offered and be prepared to ask for your worth.

Make sure you know what you’re worth by doing research. Find similar job positions at companies near your location and research their salaries. According to statistics in Women Don’t Ask, women report salary expectations between 3 and 32 percent lower than those of men for the same jobs. So do your homework.

Negotiate like a woman, not a man. Unfortunately women who aggressively negotiate the same way men do are often perceived as she-devils. Women who negotiate in gentler, more reasoning and friendly manner have a better chance of being listened to and getting what they want. Maybe someday this won’t be the case, but until then it’s best to play the game…

Want to know more? Download our free eBook ‘A Step-by-Step Guide to Negotiate The Salary You Desire’ to find out what an employer’s attitude is to salary negotiations, the key principles to negotiation of salary, a step-by-step process you can follow to be fully prepared and get the result you want, and much more. Sign up to the pro plan at iwantmycareer.com for just $9.99 per month to get your copy.