Research shows that women are more reticent than men to negotiate their salary offers. For instance, one study of graduating MBA students found that half of the men had negotiated their job offers as compared to only one eighth of the women. This general pattern has been replicated insurvey studies of working adults and in laboratory experiments. It begs the question: Why? Is this a “confidence” problem? Is negotiation a skill for which men are simply better socialized than women? Why leave money on the table?
Researchers have examined the why, and the answer has more to do with how women are treated when they negotiate than it has to do with their general confidence or skills at negotiation. Numerous studies have been conducted in which participants rate their impressions of employees who negotiate for pay and of employees who let the same opportunity to negotiate pass them by. The researchers then compared people’s willingness to work with that employee after evaluators saw him or her negotiate, or not. If evaluators were less inclined to work with the same employee after seeing him or negotiate, we deemed that the “social cost” of negotiation.