Tag Archives: Linda Babcock

A Bias Toward Favored Treatment For Men – a Problem that Has Not Gone Away

Women don’t ask.  They don’t ask for raises and promotions and better job opportunities.  They don’t ask for recognition for the good work they do.  They don’t ask for more help at home.  In other words, women are much less likely than men to use negotiation to get what they want. 
Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever:  Women Don’t Ask:  Negotiation and the Gender Divide


Karl Krayer and I have both presented synopses of books by the “Women Don’t Ask,” duo, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever.  I presented Women Don’t Ask:  Negotiation and the Gender Divide, and Karl presented Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want.  These are good books, built on solid research.  And, it looks like their findings are changing the behaviors of women in the workplace.  Women are learning to be more proactive in asking for promotions and raises and opportunities.  So, this behavior should be producing the desired results and outcomes, right?

Maybe not…

In For women in business, the squeaky wheel doesn’t get the grease, Nancy Carter and Christine Silva reveal that even as women have begun asking, it has not yet changed the outcomes.  Here’s their summary finding:

If women are asking, but are still not advancing as quickly, maybe we need to frame things differently. Perhaps it’s not that women don’t ask—but that men don’t have to.

And, here are a few key paragraphs from their article:

Our recent Catalyst report, The Myth of the Ideal Worker, reveals that women do ask for raises and promotions. They just don’t get as much in return.
Women who initiated such conversations and changed jobs post MBA experienced slower compensation growth than the women who stayed put. For men, on the other hand, it paid off to change jobs and negotiate for higher salaries—they earned more than men who stayed did. And we saw that as both men’s and women’s careers progress, the gender gap in level and pay gets even wider.
Our findings run counter to media coverage of the so-called phenomenon that “women don’t ask.” Instead the problem may be, as some other research has shown, that people routinely take a tougher stance against women in negotiations than they take against men—for example quoting higher starting prices when trying to sell women cars or making less generous offers when dividing a sum of money. Catalyst research has shown a number of ways that talent-management systems can also be vulnerable to unintentional gender biases and stereotypes.
Are men being rewarded without even having to ask? Do women have to raise their hands and seek recognition to an even greater extent than men do, just to receive the same outcomes? Do women have to ask for the same thing multiple times before they get what they’re requesting? Do managers think women will accept a lower salary, while men will walk?
Catalyst’s research on high potentials in the workplace reinforces one core finding: gender gap can’t be explained away by women’s preferences or actions. It’s time for companies to find, and fix, bias in the system.

What is the solution?  The authors write this:  “It’s time for companies to find, and fix, bias in the system.”  It sounds like we need a generation of leaders who will simply become obsessive about being genuinely fair in regards to the salaries and promotions and opportunities for the women who work in their companies and organizations.

There is, pretty clearly, a bias toward favored treatment for men that has not gone away.  It’s time for it to go away!

“Because I asked” – John Feinstein offers a business and life success lesson

Women don’t ask.  They don’t ask for raises and promotions and better job opportunities.  They don’t ask for recognition for the good work they do.  They don’t ask for more help at home.  In other words, women are much less likely than men to use negotiation to get what they want.

Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, Women Don’t Ask:  Negotiation and the Gender Divide


There are some business and life lessons that are true “basics.”  They are so obvious, so clear, so “common-sense” sensical, that we wonder how in the world we don’t all learn them and practice them.  But, the fact is, many people don’t practice them.

Like this one:

You might get what you ask for.
You will likely never get what you don’t ask for.

That’s it.  Leann to ask.  And then, ask.  And when you do ask, then you might see doors opened, with more opportunity and more success and more relationships, and more…

I heard the truth of this again last week on Fresh Air, the wonderful interview program on NPR.  Guest host Dave Davies was interviewing John Feinstein about his new book, One on One: Behind the Scenes With the Greats in the Game.

In the interview, Feinstein told about the interview he got with John McEnroe, after a 5 set win over Bjorn Bjorg.  From the transcript:

DAVIES: You have some great stories in here about tennis. And one of them I liked was when you followed John McEnroe into the locker room at the U.S. Open, because he wasn’t talking to anybody. And this was an example of you find – just getting access that other people couldn’t get and it paying off. Tell us what happened.

FEINSTEIN: Well, more accurately, I think it was that I knew back in those days that I could go into the locker room. And because Barry Lorge, my colleague from the Washington Post, was writing a lead and I was doing the secondary story, the sidebar, I had a little more time. And John had come in, he’d just won the U.S. Open, he’d beaten Bjorn Borg in five sets. This was a few months after their historic five-set match at Wimbledon. And Borg had come back from two sets down to tie it at two sets apiece. And I’ll never forget sitting there in New York City, John McEnroe grew up less than five miles from the stadium in Flushing, and the entire crowd was on its feet cheering for Borg. And I couldn’t imagine what that felt like for McEnroe.

He goes on to describe this locker room interview – it is a great story!  And here’s the key lines in the interview:

A lot of times people have asked me, well, how did you get Knight to give you the access? How did you get this guy to give you the access? The answer almost always is because I asked. It’s really that simple.

John Feinstein

“Because I asked.  It’s really that simple.”  Yes, it is.


Listen to audio of the program here.
Read the transcript of the interview here.

Are Men Finished? – Have Women Really Adapted Faster, and Better, than Men?

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
(paraphrased from Charles Darwin)


Do you remember the TV show All In The Family?  In the episode Gloria and the Riddle, Gloria stumps Archie with a classic riddle:

A man and a son were in a car accident.  The son was rushed into the emergency room.  The doctor announced “I can’t operate on him.  He’s my son.”  The doctor was not the boy’s father.  Why couldn’t the doctor operate? 

Archie Bunker never could figure it out – but Edith did, and Archie did not like the answer!  It aired on October 7, 1972 (the year I graduated from college), and it seems utterly amazing that an entire show could be built around a riddle that stumped everyone then, and would stump no one today.

Our oldest son is a first year medical school student.  At his opening (very impressive) White Coat Ceremony, one of the speakers commented on how he remembered, years earlier, when women made up fewer than 8% of the class.  They did not announce this year’s percentage, but my brother and I began our unofficial tally when it became obvious – this year’s class was clearly more than 50% female.

I thought of all this as I read about this upcoming debate.  If I could be in New York next Tuesday (September 20, 2011), I would definitely want to attend the debate:  Men Are Finished:  the live Slate/Intelligence Squared debate on Sept. 20 at NYU. (Details here).

One of the two speakers for the motion is Hanna Rosin, author of the recent article The End of Men for The Atlantic.   Here are some paragraphs from an interview in Slate with Ms. Rosin.  I bolded some portions for emphasis:

Why are men finished, exactly? Rosin says they’ve failed to adapt to a modern, postindustrial economy that demands a more traditionally—and stereotypically—feminine skill set (read: communication skills, social intelligence, empathy, consensus-building, and flexibility). Statistics show they’re rapidly falling behind their female counterparts at school, work, and home. For every two men who receive a college degree, three women will. Of the 15 fastest-growing professions during the next decade, women dominate all but two. Meanwhile, men are even languishing in movies and on television: They’re portrayed as deadbeats and morons alongside their sardonic and successful female co-stars.

The question I always have to respond to (after her The Atlantic article) is, ‘[if women are taking over] why are there so many more men in power?’ If you look at Hollywood, or you look at the Fortune 500 list, or you look at politics, there’s a disproportionate number of men in the higher positions of power.

(Slate: Why is that, then?)

Men have been at this for 40,000 years. Women have been rising for something like 30 or 40 years. So of course women haven’t occupied every single [high-powered] position. How would that be possible? The rise of women is barely a generation old. But if you look at everything else, like the median, the big bulge in the middle, it’s just unbelievable what has happened: Women are more than 50 percent of the workforce, and they’re more than 50 percent of managers. It’s just extraordinary that that’s happened in basically one generation. It seems like whatever it is that this economy is demanding, whatever special ingredients, women just have them more than men do.

The overall message of the last 25 to 30 years of the economy is the manufacturing era is coming to an end, and men need to retool themselves, get a different education than the one they’ve been getting, and they’re not doing it.

One of the young guys I interviewed put it to me: “I just feel like my team is losing.” They feel like women have clocked them, and it came as a surprise to this young generation of men, so I don’t know that they can’t catch up. They might.

I wrote a piece in the Atlantic last week about the new TV season in which six different fall sitcoms are about men being surpassed by women.

I have presented synopses of a number of books on some of the difficulties/challenges women face in the workplace:

Women Don’t Ask:  Negotiation and the Gender Divide by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever

Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay. 

Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth by Mika Brzezinski

(and my colleague Karl Krayer presented another Babcok and Leschever book:
Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever.

It is true that women are still underpaid, in comparison with men doing the same job/work.  And it is true that men are so very dominant at the very top of the ladder(s).  The glass ceiling is still quite real.  Consider this quote from the Brzezinski book:

“At the top of the capitalist pyramid, there are almost no women.  The areas where the real money and power reside are still occupied almost exclusively by men…  How many would picture a Wall Street titan in a skirt?  Most of the gain in income and productivity for the whole economy over the past decade, even the past couple of decades, is in the top one percent, and that’s where the women aren’t penetrating.”    (Chrystia Freeland, Financial Times).

But, as Ms. Rosin asserts, the tide is turning in so many ways.  This may be good (I’m genuinely all for equality) for women, and for society overall, but the men have some serious soul-searching to do, in my opinion.  Men, according to Ms. Rosin, have been too slow to adapt (see Darwin paraphrase above), while women have adapted with breathtaking speed to the new realities.

I think this will be quite a debate on September 20.


You can purchase our synopses of three of the books listed above (Women Don’t Ask is not available), with audio + handout, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

The Secret To Successful Negotiation Starts Right Here – Ask For What You Want

This is what I am coming to understand.

As you seek to get better at all of the aspects of your work, it is better to do something as well as you can, now, than not do it at all because you have not yet mastered the skills needed.

This is what I mean.

A while back, I wrote a blog post on “how to market yourself.”  And my point was that it may not matter all that much how you market yourself.  Use almost any method (there are lots to choose from), but most of all, actually market yourself.  You know – get out there and market yourself!

I’m ready to dispense almost the same advice about negotiation.  Sure, there are better ways to negotiate.  Aim for win-win; aim for collaboration; protect the relationship with the one(s) you negotiate with.

But most of all, negotiate.  Ask for what you want.  Let the other party ask you for what they want.  Listen to each other.  Ask, listen,…negotiate.

Now, there are plenty of valuable tips.  Like these:

• From Women Don’t Ask: — Negotiation and the Gender Divide by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever:
Before we decide to negotiate for something we must be first dissatisfied with what we have.  We need to believe that something else – more money, a better title, or a different division of household chores – would make us happier or more satisfied.  But if we’re already satisfied with what we have or with what we’ve been offered, asking for something else might not occur to us.  Ironically, this turns out to be a big problem for women:  being satisfied with less.

• From Getting to Yes — Negotiating Agreement without Giving In (Second Edition) by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton
Any method of negotiation may be fairly judged by three criteria:  it should produce a wise agreement if agreement is possible.  It should be efficient.  And it should improve or at least not damage the relationship between the parties.  A wise agreement is one which meets the legitimate interests of each side to the extent possible, resolves conflicting interests fairly, is durable, and takes community interests into account. (emphasis added).

a negotiation classic

Getting to Yes presents the four parts of the Principled Negotiation method:
1)    Separate the PEOPLE from the Problem
2)    Focus in INTERESTS, not Positions
3)    Invent OPTIONS for Mutual Gain
4)    Insist on Using Objective CRITERIA

But the real lesson comes from the title Women Don’t Ask.  The counsel is this; after you know what you want in a negotiation, ask for what you want!


Women Don’t Make More Because They Still Don’t Ask – And Then, When They Do, They Are Penalized For It

Women don’t ask.  They don’t ask for raises and promotions and better job opportunities.  They don’t ask for recognition for the good work they do.  They don’t ask for more help at home.  In other words, women are much less likely than men to use negotiation to get what they want.
Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, Women Don’t Ask:  Negotiation and the Gender Divide


This really is an amazingly difficult unfairness.  I presented the excellent book, Women Don’t Ask, back at the February, 2004 First Friday Book Synopsis.  My colleague Karl Krayer presented their next book, Ask For it, at the May, 2009 First Friday Book Synopsis.  The authors, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, have been pounding away at this simple truth:  women don’t make as much as men because they don’t ask for it.

And now, after championing this one simple truth, they have made another discovery:  women who do ask for it are penalized for asking – because it is not a “feminine trait” to aggressively ask.  So, not only do women have to start asking for more money, they have to learn to ask like a woman should ask.

Al of this was part of an excellent segment yesterday on All Things Considered.  (Read the transcript, and listen to the segment, here).

Linda Babcock

Here are some key excerpts:

In the face of a persistent gender pay gap, researchers and women’s advocates are focusing on one little-discussed part of the problem: Women simply don’t ask for more money.
“I tell my graduate students that by not negotiating their job at the beginning of their career, they’re leaving anywhere between $1 million and $1.5 million on the table in lost earnings over their lifetime,” Linda Babcock says.

And so – just ask – right?  Not so fast:

Babcock showed people videos of men and women asking for a raise, following the exact same script. People liked the man’s style and said, ‘Yes, pay him more.’ But the woman?
“People found that to be way too aggressive,” Babcock says. “She was successful in getting the money, but people did not like her. They thought she was too demanding. And this can have real consequences for a woman’s career.”
To be clear, both men and women thought this way.
Women can justify the request by saying their team leader, for example, thought they should ask for a raise. Or they can convince the boss their negotiating skills are good for the company. The trick, Babcock says, is to conform to a feminine stereotype: appear friendly, warm and concerned for others above yourself.
“I gotta say, that was very depressing!” she says with a laugh.

Here’s the challenge.  If you are a woman, learn to ask for more (more money; more opportunities; more accounts; more of everything); then ask; but, ask while conforming to a feminine stereotype.

As I said – this is an amazingly difficult unfairness.

Women Still Don’t Ask

“FINALLY! I hear we’re all living in a women’s world now.”  So begins the Joanne Lippman article “The Mismeasure of Woman.” On the most e-mailed list at the New York Times for three days, this article states simply that all of the progress made by women may not be as much as people had thought.  I encourage you to click on the link and read the article.  Here are a couple of excerpts:

For the first time, women make up half the work force. The Shriver Report, out just last week, found that mothers are the major breadwinners in 40 percent of families. We have a female speaker of the House and a female secretary of state. Thirty-two women have served as governors. Thirty-eight have served as senators. Four out of eight Ivy League presidents are women.
Women do have a different culture from men. And that can give us some tremendous advantages. Women are built to withstand hardship and pain. (Anyone who has given birth knows what I’m talking about.) That’s a big benefit at a time like this, with the unemployment rate at 9.8 percent and rising.
Women define success differently; for some it may be a career, for others the ability to stay home with children. They also define themselves differently. I’m in the unfortunate position of witnessing many friends and colleagues laid off over the past year. But the women are less apt to fall apart — and this goes even for the primary breadwinners — because they are less likely to define themselves by their job in the first place.

But evidence is mounting that women have not found the flexibility and advancement that they had hoped for within the corporate world.   More and more have to carve out their own entrepreneurially driven companies to really get what they want.

But one specific that really struck me in the article was this:
We can begin by telling girls to have confidence in themselves, to not always feel the need to be the passive “good girl.” In my time as an editor, many, many men have come through my door asking for a raise or demanding a promotion. Guess how many women have ever asked me for a promotion?
I’ll tell you. Exactly … zero.

Women Still Don't Ask

Women Still Don't Ask

It is proof of the contention in the terrific book by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, Women Don’t Ask:  Negotiation and the Gender Divide. Here’s a quote from the book:

Women don’t ask.  They don’t ask for raises and promotions and better job opportunities.  They don’t ask for recognition for the good work they do.  They don’t ask for more help at home.  In other words, women are much less likely than men to use negotiation to get what they want.

I think the question is very much still an ongoing one – what do women need in the workplace? But this I think I know – as they figure it out, they need to learn to actually ask for what they want and need.


Ask For ItTo purchase my synopsis of Women Don’t Ask, with audio + handout), and to purchase the synopsis of their follow up book, Ask For It:  How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want, presented by my colleague Karl Krayer, go to our companion web site 15minutebusinessbooks.com.