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Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide Hardcover – September 22, 2003

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Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide + Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation--and Positive Strategies for Change + Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (September 22, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069108940X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691089409
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #291,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The book flows nicely, and is easy to read.
Kathy Elliott, co-author "The Old Girls' Network"
Readers will be rewarded with insights into the condition of gender relations in modern work environments as well as benefiting from the authors' well-supported views.
Linda Kurisko
I liked the mix of examples of diverse individual women's experiences along with data from the authors' and others' relevant studies.
Chloe Lamp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By D. Raymond on February 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book in almost one sitting. It has compelling factual data and riveting anecdotes. But, unlike Backlash, by Susan Faludi, which was almost totally negative, the authors also look at women's strengths in negotiation, and give some ideas for how to put their ideas into action.

It's not a how-to-negotiate book; I've spent the last 23 years practicing corporate law, negotiating sophisticated legal transactions and running an in-house department. This book goes beyond "how to" into "why". Essential reading for any woman!
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Edlund on March 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There isn't anything surprising in here to any woman who has been around the business world for a while. However, the book's real value is that it provides empirical evidence to support Everywoman's anecdotal observations.

What I found most useful about this book is evidence cited that women's "tend and befriend," cooperative approach to negotiation results in greater gains in the long run, in part because of women's ability to reframe. It also confirmed my impression that women are more successful in business when they soften their mode of delivery (although not their message).

The authors further reframe the scope of "negotiation" to include women's personal, including homemaking, lives, to remind us all that equality should not end at the thresholds to our homes.

Ultimately, every negotiator has to find his or her own personal style. This book made me feel just that much better about including lipstick and high heels in my arsenal.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Elliott, co-author "The Old Girls' Network" on January 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is incredibly well-researched and thoughtfully laid out. It builds its case beautifully with interesting examples, then backs it up with empirical research. And credit to the authors' writing styles, for they do not point fingers or whine about the way things are. And they never fall into a dry style of writing. The book flows nicely, and is easy to read.
Most importantly, they shine a light on issues women have in asking for what they deserve and by laying out their case in such a well-articulated fashion, they help provide answers that we can all act upon and move forward with.
The issues that the book explores impact women across all facets of their life -- from negotiating child care responsibilites to getting the recognition and compensation they deserve on the job. As a co-author of the business book "The Old Girls' Network", I see these issues in evidence in how women buiness owners also negotiate -- for contracts, for customers, in how they price their products and reticence about charging appropriately. So, I would say this book has broad appeal to stay at home moms, women in corporate life and for the large contingent of female entrepreneurs. It is a must-have addition to all of our reading lists, and one that should bring positive results.
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful By John D. Baker on October 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
First Rate
Linda Babcock is the James Mellon Walton Professor of Economics at the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and is a well-published specialist in negotiation and dispute resolution.
Sara Laschever is a prolific writer and editor with extensive experience in gender research. Ms. Laschever was a research associate and principal interviewer for Project Access, a Harvard University study of the effect of gender on the advancement of women in science. She holds a Master's degree from Boston University.
Women Don't Ask is a work with multiple interwoven themes. At its core, it is an important study of gender differences in negotiations. It is also a handbook for women offering concrete advice on how to improve their performance in negotiations.
Still further, it is a book about possibilities. Centering on traditional areas of women's strengths in sharing information and building and preserving relationships, it concludes that women are potentially in a position to use these qualities with great effect in collaborative negotiating environments. Gender differences, therefore, include both hurdles to be overcome and promises for enhanced performance for women in negotiations.
Lastly, the reader will find the book presents a compelling case for the necessity of participation and skill in negotiations as an increasingly critical survival mechanism for both women and men in contemporary life. Although focusing primarily on women, the authors present an array of general statistics defining an environment in which all workers need to bargain repeatedly with a succession of employers for salaries and benefits.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on February 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The debate on gender equity often emphasizes that women earn less than men with similar experience. Authors Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever say that while women may indeed be the victims of external forces, they also to some extent may suffer from their own inability, unwillingness or aversion to negotiate or make demands. In fact, men negotiate four times as frequently as women, and get better results. Men are much more apt to make demands and ask for benefits, pay increases and so forth. Men make more money not necessarily because the system is overtly discriminatory - though it well may be - but because men demand more. The book tends to belabor its point, and sometimes the evidence does not seem as well-presented as it might have been, but We found that it sheds useful light on a knotty social problem. Perhaps it will spur more women to fight - or to continue to fight - on their own behalf.
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