Salary negotiation is important. The salary you command at the start of a new job impacts your pay for the remainder of your time with the company, and possibly beyond. Over time, not negotiating can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost pay. Furthermore, people who ask for raises earn more than those who don’t. We know that women are less likely to negotiate than men, but gender can also impact negotiation from the other side of the table. Recent research suggests that men negotiate differently when their boss is a woman.
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Here are a few ideas to consider.
1. The “Precarious Manhood Theory” says that many men feel threatened by a female boss.
Three studies on how men respond to female bosses were recently released by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. The research concluded that men feel more threatened when their boss is a woman than when they are a man. This idea is known as the Precarious Manhood Theory.
Lead researcher Ekaterina Netchaeva, Assistant Professor of Management and Technology at Bocconi University in Milan, says that men feeling threatened by women in leadership positions is caused by today’s shifting gender roles:
“Even men who support gender equality may see these advances as a threat to their masculinity,” Netchaeva said, “whether they consciously acknowledge it or not.”
2. Men negotiate more aggressively when the boss is a woman.
One of the surveys conducted was specifically about negotiating salary. Fifty-two male college students and 24 female students were asked to negotiate their salary at a new job in a computer simulation featuring either a male or a female hiring manager. Men who negotiated with a female manager asked for more money ($49,000 average) as opposed to when they spoke with a male manager ($42,870 average). For women, gender didn’t impact how much they asked for during negotiations, but they did ask for significantly less across the board ($41,346 average).
Men acted more aggressively when it came to other financial decisions as well. In another of the experiments, male college students were asked to split a $10,000 bonus with a male or female team member or supervisor. When the other party was a team member, not a supervisor, men split the money evenly regardless of gender. But, when a female supervisor was involved, the students kept a larger portion of the bonus for themselves.
3. None of this helps to straighten out the gender wage gap.
It can be discouraging to see more research that shows ways in which the gender wage gap is entrenched in our society, but there is hope. The researchers behind these surveys and experiments point out that the problem could be improved through heightened awareness of these tendencies, particularly on the part of men.
“In an ideal world, men and organizations would be concerned by these findings and adjust their behavior accordingly,” says Netchaeva. “But if they don’t, where does that leave women?”
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