Negotiating isn't something most of us ever learn in a deliberate manner. It seems to be something we're all supposed to acquire somewhere along the journey from childhood to adulthood. Women in particular often feel uncomfortable with the aggressive, male-oriented power tactics generally accepted as the norm in business negotiations. What is really important about the art of negotiating and the gender divide is the economic issue of salary gaps between men and women. Equal pay for equal work is what we want to believe employers will provide. So why are women on the average, still making less than men, and why? If efforts are made to equalize salaries in a given setting, is it only a matter of time before the women's pay once again falls behind?
In the following pages I will identify the dramatic difference between men and women in their propensity to negotiate for what they want. How child-rearing practices, the way we educate our daughters and unspoken assumptions perpetuate inequalities. These inequalities are not only fundamentally unfair they are inefficient and economically unsound.
The review will start with an in-depth look at the work of Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, Women Don't Ask Negotiation and the Gender Divide. Their summation of existing studies opens the door to explore the factors behind why women don't ask for better salaries. John K. Antill, Jacqueline J. Goodnow, Graeme Russell and Sandra Cotton explore the role parents play in influencing the gender divide in, The Influence of Parents and Family Contest on Children's Involvement in Household Tasks. In SchoolGirls, journalist Peggy Orenstein provides additional evidence of how home, school, and society influence the self-esteem of adolescent females. Orenstein also explores the difference between the way boys and girls are trained to view themselves and their roles in society. Deborah Tanner and Lisa Barron will explore the external forces that have penetrated our society in their study. I will also present an opposing view from Kimberly Blanton; interviews with Deborah Kolb and Sheila Wellington will add another dimension to the study of negotiation and the gender divide. Finally, the literature review will conclude with a summary of the literature presented, followed by specific research questions suggested by the review.
The proposed hypothesis asserts that Female college graduates entering the workforce will accept lower starting salaries then male college graduates entering the workforce. The information provided in this research proposal will seek to solidify this position. The review will focus on studies which suggest that a female's ability to negotiate, education experiences, family context and various societal norms contribute to a lack of confidence when entering the workforce.
Review of Literature
The authors of Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, Sara Laschever and Linda Babcock, have composed wide-ranging research of existing studies on the topic women and their ability to negotiate. The authors, assert that women are socialized to feel overbearing, and maybe "pushy") if they pursue their ideal situation, especially if that ideal situation will bring them into conflict with employers and colleagues (Babcock & Laschever, 2003, p.11). This is ironic in light of the authors' belief that women "worry more than men about the impact their actions will have on their relationships" (Babcock, 2003, p.4). Babcock & Laschever (2003) assert that the only way to get something, the authors' state, is by "asking for it directly" (p.4). If a woman refuses to do this, she will be at the mercy of her employer to receive an increase in salary.
In more than 100 interviews conducted by the authors the question was asked, "Identify the last negotiation you have had -- the women for the most part discussed structured negotiations involving car-buying or negotiating with their children several months in the past" (Babcock & Laschever, 2003, p. 3). The men, however, reported having very recent informal negotiations and saw negotiations as a "bigger part of their life" (Babcock & Laschever, 2003, p. 3). Women also take a more collaborative approach to problem solving, the authors found; women tend to want to find solutions "that benefit both parties" (Babcock & Laschever, 2003, p.10).
Women also have been known to work harder so they'll be given what they want without having to ask for it or negotiate. But, the authors specifically point out that if a woman would negotiate a better salary at the outset of her career, she could end up with a "gain of more than half a million dollars" (Babcock & Laschever, 2003, p. 5) by the conclusion of her career. Beyond that, women are also fighting the old battles of gender discrimination, the book reports; "our society still perpetuates rigid gender-based standards for behavior -- standards that require women to behave modestly and unselfishly and to shun promoting their own personal agendas" (Babcock & Laschever, 2003, p.11).
Another reason why women have a more difficult time negotiating than men do involves parental influence and family context. The authors of The Influence of Parents and Family Context on Children's Involvement in Household Tasks, attempt to explain how a child's upbringing can impact their ability to negotiate. The results of the study found that children in the 8-12 age range almost always perform gender related tasks in the home. In terms of family context, the study found that the gender of the child had a major impact upon the type of work that was completed. Researchers found that the girls performed most of the work in feminine tasks areas, while boys did most of the work in masculine task areas (Antill et al., 1996). The study also found that there was little evidence to support the assertion that first born children do more work than second born children (Antill et al., 1996). The study concluded that parental encouragement was effective with feminine tasks. They also found that parental involvement and parental egalitarianism created the performance of negative masculine tasks (Antill et al., 1996). The study also explains, 'Children with an opposite-gender sibling would do fewer opposite-gender tasks but more same-gender tasks when compared to children with a same-gender sibling... Parental encouragement of both masculine and feminine household tasks would result in increased child performance of those tasks... The gender of the child would be the most influential of the family context variables on the performance of gender-linked household tasks" (Antill et al., 1996, p. 231).
The study also concluded that boys are typically given more independent tasks, like outdoor work mowing lawns, while girls tend to be assigned indoor tasks that must be supervised and therefore controlled by others. Her own report on this research found that the "more encouragement by [both] parents corresponded to more involvement by children" (Antill et al., 1996, p.230), (e.g., girls) when it came to feminine tasks. As far as masculine tasks (boys) are concerned, "the more a father was involved in masculine tasks, the less a child did of those tasks" (Antill et al., 1996, p.231). Again, we see independence being fostered among boys, and dependence being encouraged on the part of girls.
Educational experiences in life also have an impact upon a woman's ability to negotiate in the workplace. Journalist Peggy Orenstein wrote a highly regarded book on this subject entitled, School Girls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap. She wrote the book in the aftermath of the eye-popping report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) "Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America," which concluded, according to The Oral History Review (Cini, 1997), "that girls experience a huge drop in confidence in their journey through adolescence"(Cini, 1997, p.106). Even though gender roles are well established prior to school age, Orenstein's response to the AAUW report -- which is based on research study of over 3,000 boys and girls aged 9 to 15 -- asserted that "In spite of the changes in women's roles in society, in spite of the changes in their own mothers' lives, many of today's girls fall into traditional patterns of low self-image, self-doubt, and self-censorship of their creative and intellectual potential" (Orenstein, 1994, p. xvi).
Orenstein's own research shows that there is a "hidden curriculum" (Orenstein, 1994, p.5) in junior high schools; she interviewed over 150 girls and more than twelve administrators in schools in northern California, and found that sexism is alive and well in the classroom. "One male teacher makes deprecating remarks daily about girls' physical appearance, and another male teacher lets boys monopolize science equipment"(Orenstein, 1994, p.24) but fails to notice that "girls rarely raise their hands in class"(Orenstein, 1994, p.24). Moreover, "sexual harassment of girls goes unpunished" (Orenstein, 1994, p. 116) because a supervisor intervenes to protect the boys.
A Georgetown professor, and author Deborah Tannen (Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work); has shown that women are more likely than men to think that simply working hard and doing a good job will bring them the success and financial advancement that they deserve. This relates, to women's perception that external forces control their lives. Women expect that…