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.”

You can download a complimentary copy of our special report, Negotiation Strategies for Women, right now! Our new special report -- Negotiation Strategies for Women – includes seminal articles from Negotiation Briefings: Why Women Sometimes Ask for Less, Women Negotiators and the Backlash Effect, The Sandberg Effect - Why Women Are Asking for More, Women Negotiators - Focus on Power and Status, and Women Rising - The Unseen Barriers. Simply click here and we will send you a download link to your copy of the report and notify you by email when we post new business negotiation advice and information on how to improve your dealmaking skills to our website.

Related Articles:

New Car Negotiations: Are Women Better than Men?: A report from NPR Morning Edition’s Sonari Glinton reveals that women not only negotiate harder bargains than men when it comes to vehicle purchases, but also they prepare more for the negotiation (See also: Negotiating for What You Really Want). Educated female consumers are changing the way car dealerships negotiate a new car purchase and how new car manufacturers are marketing to them.

Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Negotiation: Here are some negotiation skills tips to help you prepare for your next international negotiation.

Negotiation Skills: Are You Really An Ethical Negotiator?: Ethics in negotiation and how one’s perception of ethical behavior affects her ability to spot unethical behavior on her own part.

Negotiators – Guard Against Ethical Lapses: “During the past several years, one scandalous story of unethical behavior after another has made headlines: Countrywide’s and AIG’s risky business practices, trader Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich’s alleged attempt to sell a U.S. Senate seat. As instances of people behaving badly proliferate, some commentators have wondered if we are experiencing an epidemic of immorality.”

Honor Your Fellow Negotiator: “In negotiation, even minor instances of immoral behavior could damage your reputation and your organization’s as well. Few of us set out to behave badly. Yet when given an opportunity to cheat, many people will take it, researchers Lisa L. Shu, Max H. Bazerman and Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School found in recent research.”

Originally published March 2013.

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