Gender and Negotiation

Bowles, Hannah Riley, and Linda Babcock. “Are outside offers an answer to the compensation negotiation dilemma for women?”. Academy of Management Proceedings 2009.1 (2009): , 2009, 1, 1-6. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The article discusses the risk involved in women negotiating compensation. Negotiating for higher compensation has been proved to have economic benefits, however, it is socially risky for women to negotiate increased compensation. Women who negotiate for higher pay go against sex stereotypes and are perceived as demanding. Women can avoid social risks by combining compensation negotiations with feminine displays of niceness. A study was conducted where study participants evaluated a female employee candidate both before and after she conducted compensation negotiations with different methods and it was found each negotiation method presented social risks.

Bowles, Hannah Riley, and Francis Flynn. “Gender and persistence in negotiation: A dyadic perspective”. Academy of Management Journal 53.4 (2010): , 53, 4, 769-787. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We studied interactive effects of gender in negotiation dyads, theorizing that the degree and manner of a negotiator's persistence are functions of the gender composition of the dyad. Our findings challenge sex-stereotypic perspectives, showing that women persist more with male naysayers than with female naysayers but do so in a stereotypically low-status (more indirect than direct) manner. Women's adaptation of their persistence to naysayer gender appeared functional because increased persistence with male naysayers helped close a gender gap in performance, and female negotiators with high performance adjusted their manner of persistence more than those with low performance.

Bohnet, Iris, and Hannah Riley Bowles, ed.Special Section: Gender in Negotiation”. Negotiation Journal 24.4 (2008): , 24, 4, 389-508. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Gender has become one of the hottest areas of negotiation research and teaching in recent years. The topic has received increasing media attention, and negotiation students and executive education participants more frequently request that educators address the topic of gender dynamics at the bargaining table.

Our aim in presenting the collection of articles in this special issue of Negotiation Journal is to provide a resource for negotiation teachers, trainers, and practitioners interested in the latest developments in the study of gender in negotiation, and also to offer an introduction to the field for scholars and students interested in conducting research on the topic.

The collection includes review articles suitable for use in negotiations courses and training programs (see Hannah Riley Bowles and Kathleen McGinn on gender in job negotiations; Catherine Eckel, Angela de Oliveira, and Philip Grossman on gender and cooperation; and Muriel Niederle and Lise Vesterlunch on gender differences in competition). It also provides a sampling of empirical articles representative of the diverse methods in this area of research (see Rachel Croson, Melanie Marks, and Jessica Snyder's coordination experiment, and Fiona Greig's field study on negotiation and career advancement). Finally, the collection also introduces new areas of investigation with implications for gender in negotiation (see Tanya Rosenblat on the beauty premium in negotiation and Laura Kray and Connson Locke on flirtation). 

Perhaps the most important development in the study of gender in negotiation in the past ten years has been the movement from studying gender as a "personality" variable to examining "gender in context." Male and female negotiators sometimes fulfill the sex stereotypic expectations that men will be more competitive bargainers and claim a greater portion of the pie than women, but people's gender is not a consistent predictor of their negotiating behavior or performance. As illustrated in the current collection of articles, what recent research has shown in that gender effects on negotiation are contingent on situational factors that make gender more or less relevant, salient, and influential. The articles in this collection also demonstrate that some of those situations in which gender effects do arise have important economic and career implications.

We have organized the articles in three sections around the following topics: defining the negotiation table, interacting at the negotiating table, and leaving the negotiating table.

The articles in the first section on Defining the Table highlight how relationships away from the bargaining table often ignored in negotiation research  influence gender effects on negotiation at the bargaining table. For instance, Bowles and McGinn review research on gender in job negotiations and argue that gender effects on negotiations with employers cannot be understood in isolation from the effects of gender in household bargaining. They describe research findings on the situational factors that moderate gender effects on job negotiations, including the degree of ambiguity about what is available for negotiation, the salience of sex stereotypes about how men and women will and should behave in job negotiations, gender differences in pay expectations, and gender ideology with regard to the division of household labor.

In the same section, Croson, Marks, and Snyder present the results of a laboratory experiment in which they found that gender effects on group coordination varied depending on group members' outside relationships (i.e., belonging to a sorority/fraternity). For instance, they found that women's groups coordination improved when they belonged to a shared identity whereas men's worsened.

The articles in the second section on Interacting at the Table present research on how one's own gender and the gender of one's counterpart can influence negotiation-related behaviors, such as economic cooperation and the propensity to compete. Eckel, de Oliveira, and Grossman review the literature on how gender influences altruism and cooperation in bargaining-related decisions. The research that they review found that gender effects vary substantially and depend less reliably on the gender of the decision maker than on situational factors, such as whether the behavior is public or private (e.g., women seem to be more generous than men in public but not in private). These studies have indicated that gender differences in behavior are often a response to sex stereotypical expectations that cause women and men to feel that they must comply with some implicit norm (e.g., women are expected to care more about others and be more generous than men.)

Niederle and Vesterlund review the results of three experiments on gender and competition that indicated that women are more prone to compete in same-sex than in mixed-sex situations. In one of these studies, they found that a quota-type affirmative action intervention motivated women to compete, in part because they perceived themselves to be competing more with other women than with men. 

Rosenblat presents a study from a new line of research on the "beauty premium" in negotiation. She found that the combined verbal and physical attractiveness of one's counterpart had a greater positive influence on women's than on men's generosity, and proposes new research directions for illuminating the effects of physical attractiveness and gender on negotiation.

Kray and Locke present the results of two studies on perceptions of flirtation in negotiation. They found that trained negotiators tend to dismiss the effectiveness of flirtation as a negotiation strategy but that study participants perceived more flirtatious negotiators to be more likable, if less authentic. They discuss directions for future research, including whether women are more likely to be perceived, for good or bad, as more flirtatious that men.

Our final section on Leaving the Table explores the implications of gender differences in the propensity to negotiate. We include one article in this section by Greig, which presents the results of her field study of the career consequences of gender differences in the propensity to negotiate. She conducted her study in a large financial institution by collecting behavioral measures of the propensity to negotiate. She then combined those behavioral data with additional survey data and human resources records to show that women's lower propensity to negotiate (as compared to men's) helped explain why women in this organization seemed to be riding a "slow elevator" when trying to advance up the ranks.

Take together, these articles give readers a sense of the diversity methodologies and paradigms that have been used to study gender in negotiation. Croson, Marks, Snyder, Eckel, de Oliveira, Grossman, Niederle, Vesterlund, and Rosenblat — all experimental economists — use highly controlled, abstract games with anonymous interactions. Bowles and McGinn present the results of research based on field surveys and interviews as well as psychological and economic experiences. As with Kray and Locke's second study, most of the psychological experiments reviewed by Bowles and McGinn invite study participants to engage in simulated real-life negotiation scenarios, such as salary discussions or business deals. The participants generally engage in face-to-face negotiations with one another or evaluate the behavior of videotaped negotiators. Greig combines different approaches, matching up survey, archival, and behavioral data to measure the impact off gender differences in negotiation on career advancement within an actual organization. 

This collection provides a snapshot of a growing body of research, some of which is naturally more mature than others. Certain articles in the collection have clear prescriptive implications, while others offer additional exciting questions rather than conclusions. We hope that the insights of this work will be useful to negotiation practitioners, teachers, and students, and that the open questions will stir readers' curiosity and research ambitions. Perhaps, most importantly, we hope that this work will whet readers' appetites to talk and learn more about the complex and important implications of gender for negotiation.

The articles in this special issue were inspired by a series of conferences on gender in negotiation, jointly hosted by the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. We thank the authors for their interesting contributions, the conference participants for their helpful comments and stimulating discussions, and the Provost's Fund for Interfaculty Collaboration at Harvard University and the Women's Leadership Board at Harvard Kennedy School for their generous support.

Lai, L, Hannah Riley Bowles, and Linda Babcock. “Social costs of setting high aspirations in competitive negotiation”. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 61 (2013): , 6, 1, 1-12. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This article explores the implications of a negotiator setting high aspirations on the counterpart's assessments of the negotiator and future cooperation toward the negotiator. Participants were 134 undergraduates acting as buyers or sellers in a single-issue price negotiation. Buyers received instructions to set more or less ambitious aspirations. Buyers who set more ambitious aspirations achieved better economic outcomes. However, sellers paired with buyers setting more ambitious aspirations found their buyers to be less likeable, expressed less willingness to cooperate with them in the future, and behaved less generously toward them in a postnegotiation dictator game. The perceived likeability of the buyer explained why the sellers were less willing to cooperate in the future with buyers who had set more ambitious aspirations. This research contributes to the understanding of the downside of setting high aspirations in a competitive negotiation and provides implications on balancing one-time economic gain with future social loss.

Bowles, Hannah Riley, Linda Babcock, and Lei Lai. “Social incentives for gender differences in the propensity to initiate negotiations: Sometimes it does hurt to ask”. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 103.1 (2007): , 103, 1, 84–103. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Four experiments show that gender differences in the propensity to initiate negotiations may be explained by differential treatment of men and women when they attempt to negotiate. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants evaluated written accounts of candidates who did or did not initiate negotiations for higher compensation. Evaluators penalized female candidates more than male candidates for initiating negotiations. In Experiment 3, participants evaluated videotapes of candidates who accepted compensation offers or initiated negotiations. Male evaluators penalized female candidates more than male candidates for initiating negotiations; female evaluators penalized all candidates for initiating negotiations. Perceptions of niceness and demandingness explained resistance to female negotiators. In Experiment 4, participants adopted the candidate’s perspective and assessed whether to initiate negotiations in same scenario used in Experiment 3. With male evaluators, women were less inclined than men to negotiate, and nervousness explained this effect. There was no gender difference when evaluator was female.

Bowles, Hannah Riley, and Linda Babcock. “A model of when to negotiate: Why women don’t ask”. The Oxford Handbook of Conflict Resolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. 313-331. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Research suggests that women are more likely than men to pass over opportunities to negotiate for higher compensation. Studies from the laboratory, surveys, and field suggest that men are at least four times more likely than women to negotiate for compensation (Babcock & Laschever, 2003; Small, Gelfand, Babcock, & Gettman, 2007). When they do negotiate, women tend to claim smaller percentage increases than men on their initial salary offers (Brett & Stroh, 1997; Gerhart & Rynes, 1991; Stevens, Bavetta, & Gist, 1993). Aghast by women’s apparent lack of negotiating ability as well as the implications of this “gender negotiation gap” for the gender wage gap, both policy makers and professors have proposed additional training for women to raise their negotiating aspirations and effectiveness.

In this chapter, we argue that this apparent perceived bargaining deficiency on women’s part is actually a rational response to the differences in incentives and expectations that men and women face in compensation negotiations—one that is obscured by focusing solely on the immediate material payoffs from negotiation … We propose a two-period model in which employees make decisions about whether to negotiate for higher compensation in period one. Our purpose in creating a mathematical model is to be very concrete about the different effects that negotiating may have on a person’s utility and then to investigate how optimal decisions are affected by the gendered behavioral norms and expectations. 

Bowles, Hannah Riley, and Linda Babcock. “How Can Women Escape the Compensation Negotiation Dilemma? Relational Accounts Are One Answer”. Psychology of Women Quarterly 37 (2013): , 37, 80-96. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Policy makers, academics, and media reports suggest that women could shrink the gender pay gap by negotiating more effectively for higher compensation. Yet women entering compensation negotiations face a dilemma: They have to weigh the benefits of negotiating against the social consequences of having negotiated. Research shows that women are penalized socially more than men for negotiating for higher pay. To address this dilemma, the authors test strategies to help women improve both their negotiation and social outcomes in compensation negotiations.

In Study 1, communicating concern for organizational relationships improved female negotiators’ social outcomes, and offering a legitimate account for compensation requests improved negotiation outcomes. However, neither strategy—alone or in combination—improved both women’s social and negotiation outcomes.

Study 2 tested two strategies devised to improve female negotiators’ social and negotiation outcomes by explaining why a compensation request is legitimate in relational terms. Results showed that, although adherence to the feminine stereotype is insufficient, using these “relational accounts” can improve women’s social and negotiation outcomes at the same time. Normative implications of conformity to gender stereotypes to reduce gender pay disparities are discussed.