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Want more pay? Some disturbing news
Asking for more money takes some cajoling, but more so for women than men, experiment suggests.
October 3, 2005: 1:03 PM EDT
By Jeanne Sahadi, CNN/Money senior writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) Quick confession: I really dislike dealing with demanding, arrogant women.

But just for the record, I also really dislike dealing with demanding, arrogant men.

In both cases. the phrase "vexation to the spirit" comes to mind.

My equal-opportunity displeasure isn't shared by everyone, apparently, at least not at the office.

In a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon economics professor Linda Babcock, male and female subjects were asked to evaluate videotapes of job interviews with a man and a woman who had completed a company's 1-year management training program and needed to be placed in a division.

The subjects looking at the tapes were asked: How willing would you be to hire these people for your department?

There were two scenarios for each job candidate and for the sake of consistency, the candidates were played by the same actors in each scenario.

When the candidate was asked what he or she thought of the salary for the position, in one scenario the candidate said it was just fine. In the second scenario, the candidate said in a somewhat cocky manner he or she would rather be paid at the top of the salary range for the job and would like to be considered for a year-end bonus.

The women evaluating the tapes said they were less likely to hire both the male and female candidates in the scenarios where they asked for more money.

The men in the study, however, said they'd only be less inclined to hire the female candidate who tried to negotiate. They didn't penalize the male candidate for doing the same.

Both the men and women rated the female candidate who asked for more money as being highly demanding, while in the scenario where she just accepts the salary offered they gave her high marks for likeability.

It's not that women can't negotiate successfully for more money, but they might do better for themselves if they used a softer approach, said Babcock, who coauthored the book "Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide."

(The same approach, it seems, might work for men with female bosses.)

Babcock cited research that has shown that working women are as effective as their male colleagues when they use a more social style to make a point and relate to coworkers.

I'd prefer it if everyone at work exhibited more graciousness and relatedness to colleagues, subordinates and bosses alike. But in lieu of that, it's disturbing that women more than men might have to carry that burden alone or risk being penalized financially.

Also disturbing is that women often aren't even bothering to ask for more money, according to Babcock. She notes women are 2.5 times more likely than men to say they feel "a great deal of apprehension" about negotiating, and they tend to undervalue their work more than men.

She found women's salary expectations are up to 32 percent lower than the expectations of men in the same job. And when women do ask for money, Babcock's research suggests, they tend to ask for and get less money than their male counterparts.

Making your move

Working up the courage and a compelling argument for why you deserve a raise ora bigger starting salary takes some doing for everyone.

So here are some negotiating tips from Lee Miller, coauthor of "A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating":

Time your move: Approach your boss with requests for a raise a few months before your review because by the time the review rolls around, chances are he or she has already settled on a number and gotten approval for it from on high.

Prepare: Compile a list of your accomplishments in the past year and new responsibilities you have assumed. And find out what the market pays for the type of job you have or seek. Networking with acquaintances at other companies or in professional groups, as well as checking salary surveys, can give you a good ballpark range.

Avoid the empathy trap: If it's true that women are more effective at work when they use a social style, then women can use their relationship-building skills to their advantage. "It's always harder for someone to say no to you if they know and like you," Miller said.

But it's just as easy for a woman to avoid asking for something for fear of jeopardizing her relationship with a boss. "It almost never hurts to ask. While you may not get everything you ask for, you will be amazed at how often you get most of what you want," he said.

Imagine you're negotiating on someone else's behalf: It's hard for everyone to negotiate for themselves, but women especially so, Miller noted. So pretend you're representing a client's best interests. "If you do your homework you will know what is fair and reasonable to ask for," Miller said. "Don't settle for less."


Jeanne Sahadi writes about personal finance for CNN/Money. For comments on this column or suggestions for future ones, please e-mail her at everydaymoney@cnnmoney.com.  Top of page

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