Empowering Women to Negotiate

by Michael Haberman on November 13, 2012 · 2 comments


Women negotiate as well as men if given permission to negotiate.

It is well known in both HR literature and in the popular press that women earn less than men. There are a number of reasons for this difference, but one of the reasons often stated is that women don’t negotiate for salaries as often or as well as men. As it turns out these differences can be offset if you empower women to negotiate.

The Study

A Freakonomics blog post, When Women Don’t Negotiate, tells of a study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research that shows that women can and do negotiate as much men, given the right situation. The study took a look at a couple of situations. The researchers advertised different jobs and took 2500 applications. (See DO WOMEN AVOID SALARY NEGOTIATIONS? EVIDENCE FROM A LARGE SCALE NATURAL FIELD EXPERIMENT)

The Results

They found an interesting pattern. If a job situation was ambiguous and did not mention anything about salary negotiation men were far more likely to negotiate than were women. However, if the ad for the position stated that “salary was negotiable” the researchers found that women negotiated as much, if not more, than did men. Apparently women like to be told they can negotiate. If rules don’t exist they don’t attempt it. According to the researchers “…we find that men in contrast to women prefer job environments where the ‘rules of wage determination’ are ambiguous.” Since most situations tend to be more ambiguous in terms of negotiation this puts men at an advantage and may help lead to the salary discrepancy.

Empower women

If you are trying to rectify the wage inequality what you need to do is empower women to negotiate by telling them it is OK to negotiate. State in your ads that “salaries are negotiable” as opposed to “salaries are commensurate with experience.” This last statement does not give permission, where the former does.

Of course this will not solve all wage inequality in the work place. And these results may be dependent on level of position, though the study used administrative jobs. But if you have been puzzling on what you might be able to do then try this out.

Sign up for free HR Solutions updates via email

Omega HR Solutions, Inc. uses creative human resource solutions to provide answers to time, money and service issues with employers and their employees. Visit our Products and Services page for more information or contact us to learn how we can help your organization.

Previous post:

Next post: