A Bias Toward Favored Treatment For Men – a Problem that Has Not Gone Away
Women don’t ask. They don’t ask for raises and promotions and better job opportunities. They don’t ask for recognition for the good work they do. They don’t ask for more help at home. In other words, women are much less likely than men to use negotiation to get what they want.
Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever: Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide
Karl Krayer and I have both presented synopses of books by the “Women Don’t Ask,” duo, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. I presented Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, and Karl presented Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want. These are good books, built on solid research. And, it looks like their findings are changing the behaviors of women in the workplace. Women are learning to be more proactive in asking for promotions and raises and opportunities. So, this behavior should be producing the desired results and outcomes, right?
In For women in business, the squeaky wheel doesn’t get the grease, Nancy Carter and Christine Silva reveal that even as women have begun asking, it has not yet changed the outcomes. Here’s their summary finding:
If women are asking, but are still not advancing as quickly, maybe we need to frame things differently. Perhaps it’s not that women don’t ask—but that men don’t have to.
And, here are a few key paragraphs from their article:
Our recent Catalyst report, The Myth of the Ideal Worker, reveals that women do ask for raises and promotions. They just don’t get as much in return.
Women who initiated such conversations and changed jobs post MBA experienced slower compensation growth than the women who stayed put. For men, on the other hand, it paid off to change jobs and negotiate for higher salaries—they earned more than men who stayed did. And we saw that as both men’s and women’s careers progress, the gender gap in level and pay gets even wider.
Our findings run counter to media coverage of the so-called phenomenon that “women don’t ask.” Instead the problem may be, as some other research has shown, that people routinely take a tougher stance against women in negotiations than they take against men—for example quoting higher starting prices when trying to sell women cars or making less generous offers when dividing a sum of money. Catalyst research has shown a number of ways that talent-management systems can also be vulnerable to unintentional gender biases and stereotypes.
Are men being rewarded without even having to ask? Do women have to raise their hands and seek recognition to an even greater extent than men do, just to receive the same outcomes? Do women have to ask for the same thing multiple times before they get what they’re requesting? Do managers think women will accept a lower salary, while men will walk?
Catalyst’s research on high potentials in the workplace reinforces one core finding: gender gap can’t be explained away by women’s preferences or actions. It’s time for companies to find, and fix, bias in the system.
What is the solution? The authors write this: ”It’s time for companies to find, and fix, bias in the system.” It sounds like we need a generation of leaders who will simply become obsessive about being genuinely fair in regards to the salaries and promotions and opportunities for the women who work in their companies and organizations.
There is, pretty clearly, a bias toward favored treatment for men that has not gone away. It’s time for it to go away!