Just 26% of young women negotiate their job offers

Study found women who negotiate may actually lose wages

Young women still are not negotiating their salaries at even close to the same rate as their male peers are, according to a new study from lending company Earnest

According to a survey of 1,005 Americans, 42% of men ages 18 to 24 negotiated, compared with just 26% of their female peers. Men were also more likely to achieve their negotiation goals. Twenty-four percent of them had a "successful" negotiation, compared with only 16% of women.

These trends changed with age groups, however. In the 25- to 34-year-old group, women were more likely to negotiate: 43% of women reported negotiating a job offer, while just 35% of their male peers did. Women in this group were also more successful than men—about 24% achieved their negotiation goals, compared with 16% of men.

The survey did not, however, distinguish between different types of negotiating or different types of goals. The women in the older age group may have been more successful because they asked for benefits such as flexible hours, rather than higher pay.

Women who choose not to negotiate aren't necessarily suffering from a confidence gap, says Hannah Riley Bowles, a Harvard University lecturer who studies gender's role in negotiations. Women may actually be better at reading the situation and realize it's a better idea to refrain from asking for more. 

Increasing gender diversity

"Women get a nervous feeling about negotiating for higher pay because they are intuiting—correctly—that self-advocating for higher pay would present a socially difficult situation for them—more so than for men," Bowles wrote in a recent Harvard Business Review article.

Three experiments conducted in 2006 asked men and women to evaluate mock job negotiations as if they were managers, and each concluded that women were penalized more than men for negotiating. Participants also found men more persuasive—even if the male candidates used the exact same script as their female peers. 

Promoting gender equity for women employees

Furthermore, in a Harvard Business School and Stanford University experiment this year where participants took on the roles of "firms" and "workers," some workers were forced to negotiate every offer and others were given a choice to accept an offer or negotiate. For women forced to negotiate, overall wages dropped.

"In light of such complexities, women may be good judges of whether or not they should lean in," the study authors wrote (Paquette, Los Angeles Times, 7/10). 


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