Using Role-Play Simulations To Bridge The Gender Divide
As you know, gender stereotypes often enter the negotiation process. Women and men are perceived to, and often do, act differently when forging a negotiated agreement. Furthermore, gender-based discrimination—such as less pay, unequal treatment, and sexual harassment—is often a source of conflict. With the resources available through the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC), professionals can learn how to fairly and effectively negotiate gender discrimination issues.
After a concerned neighbor calls the police, officers arrive at the home of the Malvenues. Mrs. Malvenue says her husband has beaten her—and she has the bruises to prove it. Mr. Malvenue is arrested and charged with assault and battery, but because of fear (and love) Mrs. Malvenue refuses to sign the complaint.
In People v. Malvenue—a role-play brought to you by the Program on Negotiation’s Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC)—participants assuming the roles of attorney and prosecutor pursue a negotiated agreement while exploring the question:
What role does society play in interpersonal relationships?
In this contentious role-play, participants learn to:
- Manage a conflict of personal values and professional responsibility
- Explore cooperative, competitive, and principled approaches—each of which can lead to very different outcomes
- Observe conscious and unconscious nonverbal communication
- Discuss issues of BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement)
In Axis Affair—another popular role-play negotiation exercise from the TNRC—participants deal with another facet of gender-bias: Demotion and termination.
In Version A and Version B of this challenging and complex role-play, participants dive deep into the question:
How to create a negotiated agreement when issues of gender discrimination are at play?
Richard Van Heusen, Executive Vice President of Microcomputer Development, hired Denise Webster as a manager. She is the first female manager in that division and the only professional woman with whom Richard has dealt in twenty years of business. An extremely challenging work assignment, followed by a series of social advances by Richard, leads Denise to work at home and miss work without explanation.
Richard, stating that the project is in jeopardy, demotes Denise from her position as project head and gives her notice of termination. This two-party role-play features a negotiated agreement between Denise’s attorney and the company’s in-house counsel.
Participants learn how to:
- Explore how partisan perceptions affect their acceptance of differing interpretations of the case
- Embrace ways to educate both the client and the other negotiator about the facts at hand
- Understand fairness and power imbalance questions and how they are triggered by issues of sexual harassment and gender discrimination
- Explore the possibilities of miscommunication and how the presence of a possible stereotype affects negotiating strategy
- Balance a desire for social change with the client’s best interest
These are just two of the many role-plays available through the TNRC. In fact, we have an entire section dedicated to gender discrimination negotiations like People v. Malvenue and Axis Affair.
In addition to offering more than 200 negotiation role-play simulations, the TNRC offers a wide range of effective teaching materials, including:
TNRC materials are designed for educational purposes. They are used in college classroom settings or corporate training settings; used by mediators and facilitators seeking to introduce their clients to a process or issue; and used by individuals who want to enhance their negotiation skills and knowledge.
Role-play simulations introduce participants to new negotiation and dispute resolution tools, techniques and strategies. Our videos, books, case studies, and periodicals are also a helpful way of introducing viewers to key concepts while addressing the theory and practice of negotiation and conflict management.
Originally published in 2014.