Men ask for what they want twice as often as women do and initiate negotiation four times more, report economist Linda Babcock and writer Sara Laschever in the footnoted but engaging Women Don't Ask
. With vivid research examples drawn from cradle, classroom and playground, the authors detail culture as the culprit in discouraging women from negotiating on their own behalf.
Men, socialized in a "scrappier paradigm," learn to pursue and energize their goals at work and home. The two key elements are control and recognizing opportunity. For example, girls, rewarded for hard work, learn to see control as outside of themselves while boys are urged to take charge. Boys are schooled to recognize opportunity and girls to choose safe targets.
Several chapters are focused on prescription; how women can decrease anxiety, anticipate roadblocks, plan counter-moves and resist conceding too much or too soon. The authors shine in their examination of culture and gender--and their optimism about how women can counter the culture. They falter whenever they adopt the "sexes-from-a-different-planet" fallacy. Most notably, in a chapter that details a "female approach" to negotiating. Overall, the authors have created a smart summary of research and used it to affirm every woman's urgent right to ask. --Barbara Mackoff
From Publishers Weekly
Babcock and Laschever, contrary to their book's title, do ask a series of questions: Why do most women see a negotiation as an automatic fight instead of a chance to get what they deserve? Why are women afraid to ask for what they want in the workplace? And perhaps most importantly, why don't women feel entitled to ask for it? True to their academic backgrounds, Babcock (a Carnegie Mellon economist) and writer Laschever seek their answers in a series of gender psychology and economics studies (some done by them, most done by others). They cite numerous studies indicating that women are socialized to feel pushy and overbearing if they pursue their ideal situation when it spells potential conflict with employers or co-workers. The authors also use anecdotal evidence to support their claim that women are taught to feel like every negotiation is a monumental threat to a personal relationship, rather than a fact of business life (the view held by most men, they say). Their argument has important practical ramifications: the authors cite one study that estimates "a woman who routinely negotiates her salary increases will earn over one million dollars more by the time she retires than a woman who accepts what she's offered every time without asking for more." Babcock and Laschever's work is a great resource for anyone who doubts there is still a great disparity between the salary earnings of men and women in comparable professions. Alas, it isn't as successful at eloquence as it is at academic rigor.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.