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Negotiating for Salary – Men vs. Women

This article was written by in Career and Work, Salaries. 12 comments.

I’m a fan of social experiments, and here’s an interesting study. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University wanted to determine if sex had a role to play in hiring decisions. Male and female observers, playing the role of decision-makers, watch an interview with male and female participants (job candidates).

When the candidate was asked what he or she thought of the salary for the position, in one scenario the candidate said it was just fine. In the second scenario, the candidate said in a somewhat cocky manner he or she would rather be paid at the top of the salary range for the job and would like to be considered for a year-end bonus.

The women evaluating the tapes said they were less likely to hire both the male and female candidates in the scenarios where they asked for more money.

The men in the study, however, said they’d only be less inclined to hire the female candidate who tried to negotiate. They didn’t penalize the male candidate for doing the same.

Both the men and women rated the female candidate who asked for more money as being highly demanding, while in the scenario where she just accepts the salary offered they gave her high marks for likeability.

The article discusses the result of the experiment and provides some tips for asking for that raise:

* Time your move a few months before your review so the supervisor has a chance to consider the request. Asking at the review is usually too late.

* Prepare by putting a list of your accomplishments together.

* Avoid the empathy trap where you don’t ask for a raise because you understand how the company needs to cut costs.

* Imagine you’re negotiating on someone else’s behalf, as detaching your “self” from the equation lets even the most humble stick up for what they deserve.

Published or updated October 3, 2005.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

avatar 1 Anonymous

Hey flexo, I just started updating my personal finance blog again…and updated my link to your site. Maybe you could return the favor with a link to mine? Would appreciate it!


avatar 2 Anonymous

I have been successful before in negotating a salary increase. In my opinion, the reason it worked was that I did not do it during the review process and I was prepared to present why I deserved a raise. I was very specific in why I deserved the raise. There is usually no harm in trying!

avatar 3 Luke Landes

I added the link, Murray, and welcome back!

avatar 4 Anonymous

Must have been an anonymous survey for so many male respondents to admit they’d penalize the women and not the men for the exact same behavior. So delightfully un-PC. The reaction of the women surprised me though but I am guessing the cocky manner accompanying the demand in that scenario had more to do with their reluctance to hire than simply a demand for higher pay. Incidentally that may be the reason behind the male managers’ reactions as well. In my experience men are more turned off by arrogance in a woman than by it in another man. For my part though I have always negotiated and received a higher pay or a better package overall with both male and female hiring managers. I have also done a lot of hiring and in several cases ruled out a candidate because they asked for too much and couldn’t explain why they deserved more. Here’s my advice to anyone who’s thinking of negotiating irrespective of gender:

1. Be reasonable — don’t ask for 100k when people in peer position get 80k. If you don’t know how much people are making in the same position, get creative and find out.

2. Keep it on context — don’t ask for more money because you have two kids to raise or want to go on a Caribbean cruise next year. Instead, ask for more, say, because you have extensive prior experience in doing just the kind of work this job requires and can not only be valuable from get go but can coach less experienced team members and thereby improve productivity overall. Salary negotiation is a great time to remind them why you are the best candidate and raise your value at the same time.

3. Be confident, not cocky — I like confidence. I hate arrogance. As a hiring manager myself there is a huge difference between “I deserve it (because I am Gods’ gift to earth.)” and “I deserve it because I am talented, hard-working and ready to give my 110% to this job.”

4. Time it — As The Dividend Guy said above, don’t bring up salary during the interview. Why price yourself out of the market before your prospective employer has had a chance to truly appreciate how fabulous you are? Mesmerize him or her with your talent, your flexibility, your can-do attitude and your team-spirit. If salary does comes up during the interview say that what you are looking for is a world class environment where you can learn and grow and become an asset to the team and that you are flexible on compensation. Then, when they are ready to kiss the ground you walk on, tell them you are worth more. But be reasonable.

avatar 5 Anonymous

Another point to add to the excellent suggestions above is keep a list of all the things you do. Rarely do the people in charge know all the different aspects of your job, especially if you help out in areas other than directly under your boss. Don’t just tell them you are worth more, have it documented in the form of all you do to prove it.

avatar 6 Anonymous

What negotiating? In the minimum wage world, it’s take-it-or-leave-it. Nothing to negotiate.