Why Women Don’t Negotiate Their Job Offers


In repeated studies, the social cost of negotiating for higher pay has been found to be greater for women than it is for men. Men can certainly overplay their hand and alienate negotiating counterparts. However, in most published studies, the social cost of negotiating for pay is not significant for men, while it is significant for women.

The results of this research are important to understand before one criticizes a woman — or a woman criticizes herself — for being reluctant to negotiate for more pay. Their reticence is based on an accurate read of the social environment. Women get a nervous feeling about negotiating for higher pay because they are intuiting — correctly — that self-advocating for higher pay would present a socially difficult situation for them — more so than for men.


But here’s a twist: we love it when women negotiate assertively for others. It’s just when women are negotiating assertively for themselves — particularly around pay — where we find a backlash. Unsurprisingly, research also shows that women perform better (e.g., negotiate higher salaries) when their role is to advocate for others as opposed to negotiating for more for themselves. Men’s behavior and the ensuing social effects don’t shift much depending on whether they are advocating for themselves or others.


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