Women's Negotiation "Problem" May Be Power, Not Gender

Published on by Lisa Gates.


Which came first – discrimination against women in pay and power or women’s own failure to negotiate the pay and power we deserve? If you ask this question of most business women today, they’ll say discrimination came first.

But if they’ve been paying attention to press coverage about the social science on women and negotiation, they’re likely to blame themselves for failing to achieve as much as their male counterparts.

I’m afraid to negotiate, they’ll say. And when I do negotiate, I’m more likely to get blowback than a raise. What I’m supposed to do is negotiate nicely, to be relentlessly pleasant, to use we and not me language so that I’m not crossing gender boundaries.

As someone who makes part of my living teaching women to negotiate, I obviously believe we can reach wage and income parity more quickly if we ask for what we deserve and learn the bargaining skills necessary to get what we ask for. But I’m pretty well fed up with the “gender boundary” advice.

You think we would have gotten the vote in 1920 if we’d colored within the lines of our gender roles? Or we would have entered business and the professions in droves had we cleaved to society’s expectations of us in 1970 or ’71 or ’72? I don’t think so. What I think is that no well-behaved woman ever made history.


Negotiation, Power, Women Negotiation for Women, She Negotiates, Victoria Pynchon, Women and power, negotiation training for women, relentlessly pleasant

Published on by Lisa Gates.