According to an article published early this year in The Atlantic, “Women Know When Negotiating Isn’t Worth It.” There is a lot of talk about the gender wage gap and how women are often paid less than men for the same work. In response to this, women have been advised to negotiate since there is a perception that women earn less because they don’t ask for more. Contrary to this notion, The Atlantic examined research that says that when women choose not to negotiate it is because they already know that it will not be to their advantage.
In research that The Atlantic described as more “transparent” than salary negotiations, two-person teams needed to reach an agreement about salary or face a financial penalty. The negotiations were done via instant messages and in some cases they person assigned the role of worker had to negotiate and in some cases the worker could choose to negotiate.
“Women were avoiding the negotiations they knew would not end well for them. The likelihood of women losing money tripled if they were forced to negotiate, rather than given the option…Unlike women, men were not particularly likely to opt out of negotiations that they would probably lose. Thus, being forced to negotiate was neither bad nor good for the men, but it was bad for women…”
Because they earn less and yet tend to live longer than men, women need to find ways to maximize their earnings and negotiating salary and benefits is one way to do this. Earning more money or being more rested because of negotiated time off can alter your financial planning and overall financial outlook.
It seems women are at a disadvantage because there is a price to be paid for failing to negotiate just as there is a cost if you negotiate when you can already sense that it will not be to your advantage. Perhaps the answer lies in an idea put forward by an author interviewed for the article: that we aren’t born knowing how to negotiate but we can learn and improve at this skill in order to negotiate effectively.