On Thursday, September 22, the Association of Women Faculty and Professionals hosted a visit from Sara Laschever, who presented a talk entitled “Ask for it! Women and the Power of Negotiation.” This talk was cosponsored by the Association of Professional Women in Medicine, the Carolina Women’s Center, the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, and the Center for Faculty Excellence.
What I particularly appreciate about the work of Laschever and her co-author Linda Babcock is that in addition to acknowledging that many women are uncomfortable negotiating and that we need to improve our skills at negotiation, they recognize that women who are negotiating are often perceived very differently than men who negotiate, and often more negatively. I agree that we must understand the need to ask for what we want/deserve, but it’s not enough just to teach negotiating techniques and ideas without a sense of the context and consequences. Babcock and Laschever address this issue in their books.
Laschever’s talk was lively, interesting, and at times very funny. She began by demonstrating the consequences of not negotiating at the beginning of our careers. Small differences in starting salaries, even if the percentage of raises and rates of return on savings are identical, have huge consequences. This gendered accumulation of advantage has significant implications for financial stability and prosperity for women.
Laschever noted that women don’t ask as often as men, although we demonstrate great negotiating skills when we’re advocating for other people – our kids, our students, our employees, etc. The result of studies done by Linda Babcock consistently show that men ask for things for themselves – on their own behalf – FOUR TIMES as often as women. They ask, not just for money, but for new assignments and projects, important committee assignments, promotions, and more. Women, Laschever asserted, tend to think that if we do a great job and work hard, we’ll be recognized and rewarded appropriately. The culture of the workplace just doesn’t work that way, which means that women need to initiate conversations about what they want in the same ways that men do.
Some quick tips from Laschever:
- Don’t accept the status quo; assume that everything is negotiable or on the table.
- Identify what you want now and figure out what it will take for you to get it – do you need specific experience or extra credentials before you make the ask?
- Take advantage of networking opportunities and collect as many mentors as you can.
- Ask for more than you want, so you have room to negotiate.
- Combat anxiety by role-playing prior to the negotiation meeting.
Laschever noted that women base their ideas of their potential on what they have done; men base theirs on what they think they can do. Let’s change our paradigms and practices so we get what we need, what we want, and what we deserve!
Watch for more details about the talk – and more pictures — in our Fall Newsletter!