Men, Women, and Status in Negotiations

By on / Women and Negotiation

A growing body of research suggests that status concerns vary depending on the gender of interested parties.

First, men tend to care more about status than women do. Using a university sponsored fundraising campaign, researchers Bruno S. Frey and Stephan Meier of the University of Zurich examined how social-comparison information affected contribution rates.

  • Male students who learned that a high percentage of students had contributed to the campaign were more likely to make a contribution than were female students who received the same information.

In the context of negotiation, professors John Rizzo of Stony Brook University and Richard Zeckhauser of Harvard University asked a group of young physicians about their reference groups and salary aspirations.

  • Male physicians compared themselves to reference groups that earned higher salaries than the ones female physicians selected. 
  • In addition, men’s salary reference points were more indicative than women’s of how much they earned later.
  • Finally, women tend to compare themselves to particular individuals whom they know, while men tend to assess themselves according to information about typical behavior.

For this reason, when negotiating, consider offering different social comparison information to men and women. You might tell a male prospective hire that you’re offering him more than you’ll give others with his qualifications (assuming that is true).

When negotiating with a female prospect, you might be more specific:

“We recently interviewed someone similar to you, a Kellogg MBA with several years of consulting experience. To signal how much we want you to work for us, we’re offering you more than we offered her.”

Discover step-by-step techniques for avoiding common business negotiation pitfalls when you download a FREE copy of our Business Negotiation Strategies: How to Negotiate Better Business Deals special report from Harvard Law School.

Related Article: New Car Negotiations: Are Women Better than Men?

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