When Emily Amanatullah was a graduate student studying management, she couldn’t help noticing that a lot of the classic advice in the field was aimed more at men than women. Negotiation tactics in particular seemed tougher for women to master.
“You realize they’re pretty at odds with how women comport themselves and how they’re expected to comport themselves,” she says.
She started to talk to other women and to examine her own behavior. All the women she spoke to said they hated advocating for themselves at work. But they had no trouble speaking up for colleagues.
So Amanatullah, now an assistant professor of management at the University of Texas, devised an experiment. In a simulation, she had men and women negotiate a starting salary for themselves. Then she had them negotiate on behalf of someone else.
But Maggie Neale of Stanford Business School says there are ways around this discomfort. For one thing, she says, women can use their ability to fight for others for their own ends. When you’re negotiating a raise, she says, think of the other people your salary is supporting so the negotiation doesn’t seem like it’s all about you.
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