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Gender bias affects perceptions of 'superior' negotiators

Research upends assumption that men are inherently better negotiators

20 April 2015

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Women who have had experience in successful negotiation are superior negotiators to men, even when they rate themselves as only average negotiators, according to a recent study.

The researchers found that women who avoid negotiations or negotiate poorly are likely influenced by a lack of experience, rather than anything inherent in their gender.

A 2008 study has often been often cited to claim that women avoid negotiating or lowball salary requests. The research findings upend the assumption that men are inherently better negotiators.

"The results were a near inversion of the previous study," said Yellowlees Douglas, associate professor at University of Florida.

"I hope people shut up about gender and talk about the framework that informs gender bias - the forces that work on us subconsciously and affect men and women alike."

In the latest study, 25 MBA students completed a survey and were asked to name the amount they would receive on a Starbucks card for participating.

Women, on average, asked for amounts twice as high as those requested by men, and every woman who participated asked for a reward. Of the three highest amounts requested, two came from women.

"The women who negotiated well were likely recalling instances when they negotiated high-paying jobs or competitive bids," said Douglas.

The research suggests that, because men are more likely than women to have held high-paying jobs, they are more likely to have previous successful negotiations to draw on. This could explain why previous studies showed women to be less skilled at negotiation.




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