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October 2012

For women only

Women leave thousands and thousands of dollars on the bargaining table each year. It's true! Why do we not compete well with men for the best jobs and the best salaries?

According to Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, women don't ask! And that's the title of their book, “Women Don't Ask.”

The authors found that men negotiated starting salaries that were 4.3 percent higher than the original offer they received. When women negotiated, they negotiated increases that were only 2.7 percent higher than their first offers. Over time this adds up to huge differences in salaries and benefits.

In addition, women are typically socialized to be appreciative and non-confrontational. Here are some responses I have heard from women when asked about negotiating:

These responses presume that it's a tug of war with the employer, that they have a fixed salary and that's it. In reality, once you have reached this stage in the interview process and they've made you the offer, they want to make you happy! They expect to negotiate. They don't want to turn around and start over with recruiting and interviewing. They are competing for you.

Negotiating is an opportunity to identify the gaps between the offer they made and the one you'd like to have.

The good news is that women's collaborative style turns out to be much more effective than men's competitive style in negotiating. We want to use that to our advantage.

These phrases work well after the offer is made:

Next month we'll look at salary questions that come up during an interview and ways to use a collaborative style that gets us the salary we're worth.

Kathleen Martinek, former UNCG Alumni Career Counselor, has more than 15 years' experience in career development and corporate management. She can be reached at



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