3 Steps to Overcoming Negotiation Bias

August 04, 2014

Gender bias and stereotypes come into play in every aspect of women’s lives. Try as we might, there’s no running away from them. While more explicit sexism is thankfully a less common occurrence anymore, implicit bias sneaks in to many of our interactions every day, and it can sometimes be harder to identify and call out.

For example, women may face a backlash when negotiating in the workplace. Different definitions of “acceptable” behavior for women and men can influence these negotiations, and research shows women are more likely to be lied to during negotiations than men are.

This climate is something we all need to be aware of, but it’s important for women to negotiate. In fact, when women don’t negotiate, they miss out on one of tools we have to try and close the gender wage gap.

Think about it on a personal level. If you don’t negotiate for your first salary, and your male colleague does, you could be making hundreds of thousands of dollars less than him over the course of your working life, because raises and bonuses are all based on that starting salary.

So what can you do to navigate the treacherous waters between social expectation, bias, and doing the right thing for women everywhere? Practice and prepare.

1. Do your homework.

Know all the facts before you enter the room. What is the salary range you can expect for this position, in this city, with your skills and experience? Websites like salary.com and glassdoor.com can help you figure it out. Also make sure you know the full benefits package so you are ready to negotiate more than just the salary amount.

2. Know your range.

Don’t start negotiating until you know your own budget and needs. What is the absolute lowest you are willing to go before you have to consider walking away? What is your ideal range?

3. Practice.

This is the most important thing you can do to prepare for negotiations, especially with the realities of bias. Read some negotiation tips; then get a friend or family member to help you role-play different scenarios. How will you respond if the salary offer is too low? If they ask for you to name a number first? Ask your friend to give feedback on your negotiation style. Were you perceived as aggressive? Reasonable? Well-informed? Pleasant? Practice many times and with multiple people so you’re fully prepared to beat the backlash and get paid what you’re worth!

This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Vice President Kate Farrar and Program Manager Jessica Kelly.



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