Cool: NYT discovers women can take individual action to improve their own pay

posted at 9:21 pm on December 18, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

First, let’s put aside my feelings about the “Pay Gap” as a political discussion, in general. It probably goes without saying to you guys that I view the 77-cents stat with skepticism, think there are plenty of things other than sex discrimination that affect women’s salaries, and note that there’s not much attention paid to the gap, such that it is, disappearing.

That being said, if there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it. Check out the hook, etc. One of the things I know about myself and my women friends, and from men and women in the hiring business, is that women are not particularly great at negotiating their own salaries. Often, women don’t even know they can negotiate.

This anecdote, from a 2007 Washington Post story on gender differences in negotiations encapsulates my anecdotal experience pretty well:

About 10 years ago, a group of graduate students lodged a complaint with Linda C. Babcock, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University: All their male counterparts in the university’s PhD program were teaching courses on their own, whereas the women were working only as teaching assistants.

That mattered, because doctoral students who teach their own classes get more experience and look better prepared when it comes time to go on the job market.

When Babcock took the complaint to her boss, she learned there was a very simple explanation: “The dean said each of the guys had come to him and said, ‘I want to teach a course,’ and none of the women had done that,” she said. “The female students had expected someone to send around an e-mail saying, ‘Who wants to teach?’ ” The incident prompted Babcock to start systematically studying gender differences when it comes to asking for pay raises, resources or promotions. And what she found was that men and women are indeed often different when it comes to opening negotiations.

I’ve heard stories from liberal men and women in good standing, who are in charge of hiring at their businesses or non-profits. They lament that, if they have a budget allowance for a particular position, women often ask for the low end of that window or even below it, while men shoot much higher and end up at the higher end. If there’s a window of fair salaries and you’re running a business, you don’t have an obligation to hand over the top end of that window without even being asked. One’s ability to research salaries, pitch one’s worth, and confidently ask for an amount dictates her positioning within the window, and can even stretch it beyond what a company had envisioned to begin with.

Every encounter is a chance to break a window if not a glass ceiling, ladies.

I talk about this every chance I get with young women. I address college groups and political groups and intern groups. Whenever we turn to Q&A, I am the unseemly one who brings up pay negotiations. Because overcoming the social anxiety associated with challenging an authority figure in such a situation can often do way more for your career than just staying positive and reaching for the stars. It also can feel pretty damn good to know you can take some control over the situation.

I’d argue that doing that for yourself is far more empowering and efficient than waiting for Congress to do it for you. Imagine if negotiating tips got as much national ink as the Lilly Ledbetter Act. That’s why I’m glad to see the Grey Lady tackling this subject. A fair female reporter, Jessica Bennett, reflects on her own past experiences while reporting on a workshop in which women learn negotiating tactics:

I grew up in the Girl Power moment of the 1980s, outpacing my male peers in school and taking on extracurricular activities by the dozen. I soared through high school and was accepted to the college of my choice. And yet, when I landed in the workplace, it seemed that I’d had a particularly rosy view.

When I was hired as a reporter at Newsweek, I took the first salary number that was offered; I felt lucky to be getting a job at all.

But a few years in, by virtue of much office whispering and a few pointed questions, I realized that the men around me were making more than I was, and more than many of my female colleagues. Despite a landmark sex discrimination lawsuit filed against the magazine in 1970, which paved the way for women there and at other publications to become writers, we still had a long way to go, it turned out.

When I tried to figure out why my salary was comparatively lower, it occurred to me: couldn’t I have simply asked for more? The problem was that I was terrified at the prospect. When I finally mustered up the nerve, I made my pitch clumsily, my voice shaking and my face beet red. I brought along a printed list of my accomplishments, yet I couldn’t help but feel boastful saying them out loud. While waiting to hear whether I would get the raise (I did), I agonized over whether I should have asked at all.

This fear of asking is a problem for many women: we are great advocates for others, but paralyzed when it comes to doing it for ourselves.

Studies show, by taking the first number offered at your early jobs, you diminish your earning potential significantly, over a lifetime. This is again from 2007, but the Carnegie Mellon research is still relevant and cited, and this states it succinctly:

If a 22-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman are offered $25,000 for their first job, for example, and one of them negotiates the amount up to $30,000, then over the next 28 years, the negotiator would make $361,171 more, assuming they both got 3 percent raises each year. And this is without taking into account the fact that the negotiators don’t just get better starting pay; they also win bigger raises over the course of their careers.

The workshops featured in the New York Times piece has quite a bit of content about the wage gap, but the great stuff is the basic negotiating tips— make them offer a number first, don’t volunteer that you made $25K at your last job, don’t say yes right away, etc. I assume Ms. Houle, who runs the workshops, and I are likely on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but she is speaking my language:

“I can’t tell you how many times I hear stories of women who go into a negotiation saying, ‘Oh my gosh, thank you so much, I’ll take it!’” says Ms. Houle, noting that one student she coached even hugged her boss. “Here these women are, more educated than ever, incurring incredible debt to get that education, and they’re going to take whatever they’re offered. It’s like, ‘No, no, no!’ “

There are a lot of reasons fewer women negotiate than men do. There’s a fear of rejection, genuine ignorance that they’re allowed to negotiate, and there can be fear that one will be judged more harshly than a man would be for negotiating in the same situation. There’s some evidence to suggest that, yes, men can negotiate without having to worry as much about their tone and demeanor.

“What we found across all the studies is men were always less willing to work with a woman who had attempted to negotiate than with a woman who did not,” Bowles said. “They always preferred to work with a woman who stayed mum. But it made no difference to the men whether a guy had chosen to negotiate or not.”

In this study, Bowles and her colleagues divided 119 volunteers at random into different groups and provided them with descriptions of male or female candidates who tried to negotiate a higher starting salary for a hypothetical job, along with descriptions of applicants who accepted the offered salary. The volunteers were asked to decide whether they would hire the candidates — who were all described as exceptionally talented and qualified. While both men and women were penalized for negotiating, Bowles found that the negative effect for women was more than twice as large as that for men.

A couple things about that. I don’t doubt that this phenomenon exists. The good news is making women negotiating the new normal can change perceptions of it, thereby encouraging more negotiating and allowing the good cycle to continue. And, with women outnumbering men on college campuses, taking issue with women who negotiate will get more and more detrimental to doing business.

The discrepancy is unfair, but learning to deal with it is a reality, and a great negotiating skill. Why? Because all negotiating requires, not just aggression, but social IQ. Knowing what you’re worth, whether anyone else agrees, who you’re dealing with, and how that affects where to push is what it’s all about. Such cues can also tell you when not to push too hard. For instance when you get the unenviable feeling many current college grads are getting: “Hm, the economy is really bad. There are a thousand other resumes in that pile. Maybe I shouldn’t bluff my way into oblivion.” There’s a Carnegie Mellon academy for negotiating mentioned in the article that I’d, erm, attempt to negotiate the price down on.

I have a group of close friends and family who help me make career decisions. I have a great friend who negotiates for a living, and grabs my helmet, pumps me up, and in the past, has sent me onto the field ready to go. I’m no expert, but it’s just a great life skill to get yourself comfortable with a bit of haggling, man or woman. When I talk to young women about their careers, I’m not telling them to go all mergers and acquisitions on everyone, but doing some basic research and knowing basic skills can be a beautiful, powerful thing for beautiful, powerful women. It’s fun to see them get a twinkle in their eyes when they realize that.

Exit question (Allahpundit™): How long before we come full circle and have to start targeting these seminars to young men?

The good news is that all of these things can be learned. In 2003, when Professor Babcock was conducting research for her book, she surveyed Carnegie Mellon graduates of the management school, determining that 13 percent of women had negotiated the salaries in the jobs they’d accepted, versus 52 percent of men. Four years later, after a lengthy book tour and talking relentlessly about these issues on campus, she found that the numbers had flipped: 68 percent of women negotiated, versus 65 percent of men.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

I bet they can

The Notorious G.O.P on December 18, 2012 at 9:27 PM

America………Death throes of a once great Republic.

A nation worried about equality of pay and thumping men in the workplace….when the very freedoms that allow these free discussions slip further away every day.

Dying civilization…..killed by a majority vote.

PappyD61 on December 18, 2012 at 9:28 PM

Women have been conditioned to be dependent & to be victims, to not stand up for themselves except via lawyers & government. See: Julia.

29Victor on December 18, 2012 at 9:30 PM

I don’t think it’s a man vs. woman thing. In my experience, a lot of the top-performing workers are not good at career advancement and promoting themselves. Both men and women.

To a high-performing worker, getting the job done is just their ‘normal,’ and they don’t really feel inclined to go for bragging rights on what they feel is routine. Even in performance reviews they will tend to minimize their accomplishments. This often leads to pay disparities since management is fully capable of usury.

Meanwhile, the ‘squeaky wheel’ employees who suck but constantly brag about how great they are, in spite of evidence, somehow move nicely up the ladder. You wouldn’t want to be stranded on a island with them. Sad, but true.

The reality is you have to beg and claw for most pay raises or they simply won’t come as often or as large as they should.

HopeHeFails on December 18, 2012 at 9:31 PM

Speaking of equality………

http://www.france24.com/en/20121218-belgium-looks-euthanasia-minors-alzheimers-sufferers

http://www.france24.com/en/20121218-report-recommends-france-legalize-accelerated-deaths

Equality of pay wont mean much if you get sick in America in a few years.

PappyD61 on December 18, 2012 at 9:38 PM

Cool: NYT discovers women can take individual action to improve their own pay

Next up: NYT discovers that Obama did not give women “equitable pay” rights in the Lily Ledbetter Act.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did that…not that you’d know it after the 2012 campaign.

Resist We Much on December 18, 2012 at 9:45 PM

PappyD61 on December 18, 2012 at 9:38 PM

This has also been going on in Britain for years. It is also underway in Canada to a lesser extent thus far, but in all these cases, it is for the purpose of saving money because it is the government that pays for extended treatments in the latter part of life – and all of these governments are going broke with their ever expanding welfare systems.

O’Bozo Care is anticipating doing the same to our elders and terminally ill of all ages in order to save money on treatments – and for eliminating Social Security payments years earlier than would have been expected if folks were allowed to live out their natural lives.

This is how Progressives will balance he budget down the road – kill off the “non-productive” members of society early on. Ironically, more cash would be saved if the truly non-productive welfare leeches were eliminated instead – but then they would eliminate their voter base.

honsy on December 18, 2012 at 9:47 PM

****Alert ARB Benghazi Report Pouring In ****

Breaking News: Benghazi board concludes there was no protest prior to the attacks on U.S. mission

Independent inquiry faults State Department in Benghazi attack
WASHINGTON | Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:40pm EST

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/19/us-usa-benghazi-report-idUSBRE8BI04P20121219

https://twitter.com/Reuters

canopfor on December 18, 2012 at 9:50 PM

canopfor on December 18, 2012 at 9:50 PM

. . . which is why Shrillery is putting off testifying under oath before Congress. It might hurt her chances for 2016.

honsy on December 18, 2012 at 9:54 PM

canopfor on December 18, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Breaking News: Benghazi board concludes there was no protest prior to the attacks on U.S. mission.

Then why were the Republicans trying to shamelessly make political hay on four tragic deaths? And we had Romney’s rash statement (that was correct) before the dust settled. Ask our trolls.

Nobody is doing it on that school shooting.

BTW, I wonder if the media will have a Mission Accomplished banner at any of the inauguration balls?

IlikedAUH2O on December 18, 2012 at 9:59 PM

Breaking News: Benghazi board concludes there was no protest prior to the attacks on U.S. mission

Independent inquiry faults State Department in Benghazi attack
WASHINGTON | Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:40pm EST

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/19/us-usa-benghazi-report-idUSBRE8BI04P20121219

https://twitter.com/Reuters

canopfor on December 18, 2012 at 9:50 PM

I love you canopfor. You are HA’s news scroll.
In Vietnam they didn’t protest much either prior to them mortar attacks. Good times.

arnold ziffel on December 18, 2012 at 10:00 PM

I’ve had bosses bring up during reviews years after I was hired what an a-hole I was during hiring negotiations. I get the absolute largest salary that they’ll offer, then move on to negotiating signing bonuses, then move on to asking for all benefits to be paid for, etc.

besser tot als rot on December 18, 2012 at 10:09 PM

canopfor on December 18, 2012 at 9:50 PM

. . . which is why Shrillery is putting off testifying under oath before Congress. It might hurt her chances for 2016.

honsy on December 18, 2012 at 9:54 PM

honsy:Heres the 9 yards on HilRod and what goes on with the ARG:)
=================================================================

Victoria Nuland
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
December 18, 2012

LIBYA

Status of ARB
Current Presence in Libya

DEPARTMENT

Secretary Clinton’s Health
==============================

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/12/202226.htm

canopfor on December 18, 2012 at 10:28 PM

Mary Katharine, did you just work a Vanilla Ice reference into a post? I don’t think Ed has ever managed that…

Shump on December 18, 2012 at 10:29 PM

No they can’t! The left says they are nothing more than walking, talking vag1nas on the prowl for free birth control!

CurtZHP on December 18, 2012 at 10:32 PM

canopfor on December 18, 2012 at 9:50 PM

I love you canopfor. You are HA’s news scroll.
In Vietnam they didn’t protest much either prior to them mortar attacks. Good times.

arnold ziffel on December 18, 2012 at 10:00 PM

armold ziffel:I used to be a Courier,so at times,I love the chase,
anywho,H/A has 10 X,of what I posted!

Ahem,Lol,InComing:)

canopfor on December 18, 2012 at 10:32 PM

The workshops featured in the New York Times piece

…was garnered at a Hookers Convention!

KOOLAID2 on December 18, 2012 at 10:35 PM

That being said, if there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.

I’m certain that you also rock a mic like a vandal; light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle.

;)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on December 19, 2012 at 12:02 AM

My daughter started a new job early in November. This week she was told she is getting a substantial raise, and a year end bonus. Not bad, not bad at all.

Dasher on December 19, 2012 at 9:19 AM

I’m in the employment business – have been for 15 years. This is TRUE. Even published about it in 2007.

In the past 9 or so years as an industry recruiter and consultant, I’ve learned a lot about what makes people tick. … I’ve heard complaints, stories, excuses, and heroic efforts to make things work for themselves and others. I’ve spent a lot of time talking folks out of trees, so to speak, and a lot of time providing them a place to vent. It has been a fascinating window in to people’s psyches. Over half of those people are women. And as you can imagine, there is a great difference between men and women in what they do, want, think and vent about. And there is a huge gap between the two when it comes to overall industry advancement[1] and in my opinion, much of that gap is attributable to the self-imposed constraints, or limitations, women place on themselves. These constraints often lead to great professional frustration for women.

Disclaimer! Now before everyone jumps all over me, let me state that I am referring only to those limitations over which women actually have control, whether they realize it or not. I’m not referring to responsibilities placed on us by children, elderly parents, illness, or the like. Men and women both have these types of constraints (though it is my observation that, overall, it is the women who will make the needed sacrifices – even for in-laws). This article does not apply to all women, but I believe it will apply to a significant number in our business. And based on my conversations with these women over the past several years – so do they.

exliberal on December 19, 2012 at 10:07 AM

If a 22-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman are offered $25,000 for their first job, for example, and one of them negotiates the amount up to $30,000, then over the next 28 years, the negotiator would make $361,171 more, assuming they both got 3 percent raises each year.

Actually, that should be “over the course of 39 years.”

Maybe women could negotiate better once they get the hang of, you know, math.

Maddie on December 19, 2012 at 11:54 AM

I recently gave negotiation a try by at least asking if there was flexibility in the salary offered (given that I had previously been making quite a bit more).

They said they were already offering the high end of their salary range and I accepted the offer.

Honestly, if I weren’t a sucker at negotiation, I believe I could have gotten more. I didn’t mention the fact that I was single-handedly replacing two people (1 who quit around the same time the other was fired) and the work load of the position had increased (the company, in part because of the good work I’d been doing as a contractor, signed another large account).

For some reason though, it felt pushy to mention any of that. Instead I mentioned that I had been expecting a higher offer and that I was previously making more for a similar role. When they said no, I said “o.k., sorry to bother you”.

Most of my guy friends said “Why didn’t you mention any of that other stuff?!?” while most of my girl friends said “Well, at least you tried.”

In any case, I was happy to accept the position because it’s a full time telecommute job with good benefits so it’s not like I’ll be suffering.

JadeNYU on December 19, 2012 at 12:13 PM

This fear of asking is a problem for many women: we are great advocates for others, but paralyzed when it comes to doing it for ourselves.

This is true for me, but I can’t say it’s because I’m a woman. I can advocate for my kids, for my students, my colleagues, but me? Nope. Even as a kid I was like that, much to my mother’s impatience.

Bob's Kid on December 19, 2012 at 1:01 PM