I was listening to the radio this morning (NPR) about a study about the differences in ethics (in general!) between men and women studying in business school. Two differences listed were that both men and women considered men to be better negotiators (and both thus would be more likely to lie to a woman in a negotiation); and that women were more likely to consider the ethics in a situation, even when it was not to their advantage.

The example given was a situation where someone was selling a house and wanted it to be used as a home, and the buyer wanted to convert it to commercial. Should they reveal that to the buyer? If the buyer was the man, they were more willing to hide that, since it was to their advantage. If the seller was the man, they would want that to be revealed, again since it was to their advantage. If the buyer or seller was the woman, they would more likely see the point of the other side too, not just what was to their advantage.

At the end of the short review, there was a conclusion that women need to perhaps use that to their advantage, in a way that would make their business better. The advantage was not in a woman-sleeping-their-way-to-the-top way (not ethical!), but that somehow being more ethical could actually be an advantage (in an ethical way, of course).

The radio show claimed that women should find an advantage in this socialization; they didn't say how.

I have seen much evidence in my own life that there is some truth in their assessments, but it has not helped my pay. I'm a poor negotiator, both in initial job and salary negotions and in subsequent discussions. Much of that is socialization: be nice; listen to the other side, see the truth in what they say; hard work and excellent output will be recognized and rewarded; if you say you'll do something, you do it even if the cost was much greater than you understood. My spouse too has lost out on career growth because of his refusal to cut corners and fudge answers. (Which points out that is is a gender generalization, and it will affect people of both genders.)

What is the best way I can use my sense that excellent work should be rewarded in my next salary negotiations for my current job, knowing that more money for me may mean less for others, or greater costs for customers; recognizing a strong socialization in myself to accept what I am given? I do good work and get things done, customers are happy and management is aware of me.

  • 2
    "both men and women considered men to be better negotiators (and both thus would be more likely to lie to a woman in a negotiation)". Why does the second follow from the first? – DJClayworth Apr 9 '14 at 23:38
  • The short answer to the question asked in your title is that there are courses on salary negotiation. I would consider going on one. – DJClayworth Apr 9 '14 at 23:39
  • @DJClayworth - I actually was listening to this same conversation on NPR on my way to work. It was 2 separate findings in the same study, not logical conclusions based on one or the other. – panoptical Apr 10 '14 at 2:15
  • No offense but I think only the last paragraph of your text is relevant. To me, the answer is pretty simple. Unless you are working for charities or NPOs, there is no reason to be ashamed or feeling bad about asking more money if you are good at what you are doing, whatever gender may you be. Chances are that your salary alone will not impact the final price and even if it does, you have a right to be rightly compensated. Take it. – ApplePie Apr 10 '14 at 11:38
  • This is essentially a question asked previously, reworded to ask about salary negotiations instead of "using ethics". The short answer is - your radio show is wrong. There's basically nothing you can use 'to your advantage' that isn't ethically loaded at best and poorly advised at worst. And this is still a terrible question. Mind you, the question title itself is valid, but the largely irrelevant context is terrible. – Zibbobz Apr 10 '14 at 14:35

I did a lot of Googling about salary negotiation when I was looking for a job, and one thing that really stood out to me from many sources was that men get paid more than women because they ask for more.

Women are much more likely to take the first offer they consider to be fair or acceptable, while a man presented with a reasonable offer is much more to likely to throw out a higher figure just to see if he can get it. Successful negotiators are not afraid of rejection, and by doing this they get a chance to "negotiate" down to something that is still higher than what the company would normally offer.

With that in mind, when it came time for me to name my requested salary, I named a figure that was much higher than what I thought I could get on the high end. And to my surprise, I got it, with no questions asked.

So my advice for anyone who is negotiating a salary is to name a figure that's on the high end of what they want, not in the middle or on the low end. By this point, the company has usually already decided they want to hire you, and its just a matter at finding a rate that both of you agree on.

If you're too high, they'll tell you that and you can negotiate lower. But I find most of the time what I consider to be "fair" is frequently on the lower end of what companies are willing to pay, and that they're willing to pay more than average for a candidate that they think is better than average.

So in short, if you want to make more money, don't be afraid to ask for it. If you don't, someone else will.

But some other tips based on my earlier research into the subject

  • Don't set a specific salary figure too early. You want to make sure the company wants to hire you first before you start naming exact figures.

  • Do specify an exact figure when it comes time for salary negotiation, not a range. If you specify a range, you're most likely going to get an offer on the low end of it.

  • Do your research. Know the average salary for your job position, level of experience, and location. Its almost guaranteed that the company you're applying for has already done this, and it helps you come up with a realistic figure to ask for.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for a higher figure than average. Most companies won't drop someone they want to hire just because they named a salary that's higher than they want to pay.

  • Do Google for salary negotiation tips online. There's far more information out there than I can fit into an answer here, and it can change a lot depending on your circumstances.

Edit I spent a lot of time looking for one specific article I wanted to link which made a big impact on how I negotiated my salary, but the closest thing I could find was this reddit post. If you are questioning if you should negotiate or not, I would highly recommend you read it. Especially if you're a woman.

Today I finished interviewing my third new hire this month, two of which are women. They both are getting paid substantially less than the man I hired earlier this month, and to be honest I am getting tired of that. I don't set the wages, I just handle negotiations (HR has to approve every offer I make).

Our process, despite the pay gap, is identical for men and women. We start with phone interviews, and move into a personal and technical interview. Once a candidate passes both of those, we start salary negotiations. This is where the women seem to come in last.

The reason they don't keep up, from where I sit, is simple. Often, a woman will enter the salary negotiation phase and I'll tell them a number will be sent to them in a couple days. Usually we start around $45k for an entry level position. 50% to 60% of the women I interview simply take this offer. It's insane, I already know I can get authorization for more if you simply refuse. Inversely, almost 90% of the men I interview immediately ask for more upon getting the offer.

The next major mistake happens with how they ask for more. In general, the women I have negotiated with will say 45k is not enough and they need more, but not give a number. I will then usually give a nominal bump to 48k or 50k. Company policy wont let me bump more than 5k over the initial offer unless they specifically request more. On the other hand, men more frequently will come back with a number along the lines of 65k to 75k, and I will be forced to negotiate down from there. After this phase, almost all women will take the offer or move on to somewhere else, not knowing they could have gotten more if they asked.

At the end, most of the women I hire make between 45k and 50k, whereas the men make between 60k and 70k. Even more crazy, they ask for raises far less often, so the disparity only grows. I don't know if this is at all helpful, I feel most of it is common sense, but I see it all the time. How can I help?


  • Don't be afraid to ask for more, it's not insulting or in any way going to affect your ability to be hired (we can always say no)
  • When you ask for more, give a number! If you let me pick, I will continue to lowball it.
  • Ask for raises, confident people get them more often than high performers in a heavy bureaucracy.
  • Do you have any more examples or truthful advice from people at the other side of the negotiation? – Pacerier Jul 1 '15 at 14:42
  • @Pacerier Do you mean from the side of the employee instead of the employer? It would probably be best to have a separate question related to that, as that subject is probably too lengthy for comments. – Rachel Jul 1 '15 at 14:58
  • By "other side", I mean the boss / HR manager, like the example you gave. – Pacerier Jul 2 '15 at 7:39

What is the best way I can use my sense that excellent work should be rewarded in my next salary negotiations for my current job, knowing that more money for me may mean less for others, or greater costs for customers; recognizing a strong socialization in myself to accept what I am given?

Accepting for a moment that all of these assumptions and generalizations about the difference between men and women are true, there are two things you can do.

First (and most obvious) - work for a woman! Clearly, a woman will share your sense that excellent work should be rewarded, and will thus reward you for your excellent work.

Second - get a woman mentor. A mentor has already gone though more negotiations and thus will have experience that she can pass on to you. Perhaps this woman and your boss could be the same person.

Be careful about assumptions, though. Not all women are the same. Not all men are the same. Expecting all women to think and act like you, may not be a good prescription for success. And expecting that no men think or act like you may be dangerous as well.

In my career, I've worked with and for many women as well as men. I've had many women as well as men working for me. I'd be lying if I said I could split them into two camps along gender lines. Over that period, I've learned to check and double-check my assumptions about gender and other stereotypes.

  • Very valid points here. I have worked for very supportive women who appreciated good work and worked hard to develop staff, and also women who were driven by their own career advancement by any means necessary. I think it comes down to the organization - if it values empathy and integrity, an empathetic and honest person will be succesful. If it does not, does an empathetic and honest person want to work there anyway? I know my answer. – Roger Apr 11 '14 at 16:53

It sounds as if you are saying "I am making a good salary and am doing well at work, but this radio station told me I wasn't getting paid as much as I should be because I am a woman so I want to know how I can use my gender/personality to do what "they" do." ("They" being the more aggressive segment of the population, regardless of gender)

If this is the case, then you are creating your own problem. If you had never heard the theory that women are paid less that women, would you be happy with your professional situation? If the answer is yes, why make yourself unhappy? Unless if you are a social reformer and you intend to use your unhappiness to improve the situation why be upset about something you can't change.

Do women get paid less than men? Yes. Do you have to feel unhappy about the way the world works? No.

Can you learn to be more aggressive in asking for a salary raise? Yes...there are many articles and classes that will address this issue. Will you like who you have to become in order to be a success at it? That's the million dollar question. You are the only one who can answer it.

Can you be a person who puts the needs of others forward in your life, and still be a person who pushes to make more money? There may be those who argue with me but I don't think so. It's a zero sum game. Any money that comes to you comes at the expense of someone or something else.

If you have some reason to think you are not being paid what you deserve (for some reason other than the general principle that women are paid less than men) then you owe it to your family and yourself to learn how to ask for what's fair. But don't let yourself be discontented just because someone else says you should be.

  • Actually, I'm being paid near the bottom of the pay scale for this job at this company; I took a sizable pay cut for this job from the last (but came from being unemployed). There is clearly a problem with my negotiation skills. – thursdaysgeek May 13 '14 at 23:32

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