The Down Side of Negotiating

Okay, you've all had a few months to reconsider your position on Asking for What We Are Worth and Gender-Based Taxation. A review of the facts: The gender pay gap starts within one year of college graduation. Women working full time earn 77 percent of the salaries of men working full time. In case you're thinking the differential is due to women's maternity leaves and time off to care for children, think again, because women who work full time and have never taken time off to have children earn about 11 percent less than men with equal educations and experience.

To add to the brew, consider the findings in a recent Washington Post Science article Salary, Gender and the Social Cost of Haggling.

Intrigued by the "pay gap", Professor Linda Babcock from Carnegie Mellon University and Hannah Riley Bowles from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government systematically studied gender differences when it comes to negotiating pay raises, bonuses, resources and promotions. They found that women and men get very different responses when they negotiate, and that women pay a "social price" for asking for more.

"What we found across all the studies is men were always less willing to work with a woman who had attempted to negotiate than with a woman who did not," Bowles said in The Post article. "They always preferred to work with a woman who stayed mum. But it made no difference to the men whether a guy had chosen to negotiate or not. This isn't about fixing the women. It isn't about telling women 'You need self-confidence or training.' They are responding to incentives within the social environment."

In most of my jobs, I've been aware I was working for money, not to be liked. This made it easier to negotiate for more -- as research shows most men do. But I still identify with Babcock and Bowles' findings. Of course part of the solution to the pay gap is that women routinely need to ask for more -- each and every time we are offered a job or a promotion. But it is empowering to understand why so many of us have been reluctant to do so, why it's hard to ask for more money, why we need encouragement from each other to counter the subtle negative reactions. I always use a "negotiating buddy" who knows what I'm asking for and helps me line up good arguments for why my work deserves more.

What has your experience been? What negotiating tips can you share? Why does this subject stir up so much vitriol? Why do you think men are paid more than women?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  September 10, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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I've been a recruiter in the corporate world for 12 years, I can attest to the subtle "social cost" Leslie and the study describe. I do think men are paid more than women and one of the reasons is because they ask for it. In my experience, women are more afraid to negotiate or they stop at a lower #.

My only negotiating tip (for women) is to simply remember to not take what's first offered to you if you think the # is too low. You can also ask for a signing bonus, extra vacation or stock options if they won't budget on salary.

Posted by: StowMom | September 10, 2007 7:22 AM

Leslie --

Do you know whether the study that found the 11% difference (for women who didn't take time off, etc.) looked at comparable positions -- ie, comparing accountants to accountants and not to HR? There was an interesting editorial by Linda Hirshman a few months ago addressing this issue, and one of the facts she pointed out was that many women set themselves up for a lifetime of pay difference by choosing "soft" majors and planning socially worthy careers, whereas the men they were going to be competing with chose majors like business and economics, and were planning to chase the jobs that offered the big bucks.

I'm not suggesting that the men were "right" and the women were "wrong" (speaking as former English major who managed to avoid all econ and business-type courses in school). But it seems to me that if your number one criterion is money, your choices will focus on what will maximize your salary; but if your number one criterion is something other than money, then you may make choices that lead to less money. So I'm interested in whether that study compared people in different types of jobs (in which case the disparity could be attributable to accounting being considered more valuable to the company than HR), or whether it really was people in the same jobs (in which case there's some significant discrimination going on).

Otherwise, I agree with the recent article; at least, it's consistent with my anecdotal experience.

Posted by: laura33 | September 10, 2007 8:15 AM

I have a lot I'd like to say, but because I'm in the middle of a very expensive lawsuit against the Federal Government on this very issue I should probably watch my words.

Negotiating pay is just one factor. The Federal Government itself has several discriminatory policies, including basing salaries on prior pay. This just perpetuates the existing wage gap when men and women are hired from outside the government into identical positions. Prior pay has nothing to do with the duties and responsibilities of the current positions.

As I get older, I notice more and more the differences in behavior that is both expected and tolerated from men and women. I am a 40+ year-old woman and a senior manager, and yet in a recent meeting a male executive said to me "you're very bright". He said it with such surprise....

I don't see things changing any time soon, because I now know from experience the amount of courage, tenacity, and money it takes to fight back.

Posted by: abrown2 | September 10, 2007 8:46 AM

This article
http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm

explains some possible reasons for pay differences. (and it is interesting)

Posted by: tddoog | September 10, 2007 8:51 AM

abrown2 - thanks for your story. it does take a lot of courage and determination (not to mention patience and money) but most people can't fight in that way and it's good you are standing up for yourself, and by implication, others. good luck.

Posted by: leslie4 | September 10, 2007 8:59 AM

I must be the exception rather than the rule. I majored in economics, went to law school, and my firm pays on a lock-step basis, meaning every associate is paid by their class year (1st year, 2nd year, etc.) and receives a lock-step increase every year. Salaries are identical for all associates of the same class year, the only thing that is discretionary is the bonus. So there is zero chance that the male associate down the hall is going to be paid more than me, at least for a base salary. I know that isn't possible in every industry, but I think it's a decently fair way to deal with salaries.

Posted by: plawrimore1 | September 10, 2007 9:09 AM

Oh great another Leslie pity party. Just a red meat blog for the feminists. Another day to take a break from OB. Yawn.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 9:33 AM

I think this is part of a broader issue in which women who ask for things in the workplace, who show confidence and guts are viewed as aggressive whereas men who do this are viewed as good potential leaders. I worked at a small firm once and found out that a man who was hired after me, for the same level job, was making more. So I went to my boss and asked for a raise. I heard later that my boss told the other partners that he was surprised that I was being so aggressive, that he didn't expect that type of behavior from me. I thought I was just being fair. (I got the raise. After a month-long fight. I left a year later, before I had to ask for another raise, which was given to my colleague without asking.)

Nataly
Founder of Workitmom.com

Posted by: nataly | September 10, 2007 9:33 AM

Oh great another Leslie pity party. Just a red meat blog for the feminists. Another day to take a break from OB. Yawn.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 09:33 AM

The anti-feminist women experience the same world and are paid the same rate as feminists so I fail to see how pay is a feminist issue.

Maybe you need to get more sleep and consume one or two fewer rum and cokes in order to alleviate that early-morning yawning problem you've developed.

Posted by: gcoward | September 10, 2007 9:38 AM

gcoward,
You mean nobody told you about the secret "higher-pay-than-non-feminist" handshake?

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | September 10, 2007 10:14 AM

Posted by: gcoward | September 10, 2007 09:38 AM

I am yawning at the same retread of posts leslie puts out sometimes that are basically just "look we are so oppressed" so that every women with an axe to grind will post. Post better subjects and I will stop yawning.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 10:18 AM

simply put, women do not and cannot do the work a man does. over the years I've had a lot of women work for me, some were excellent and I bent over backwards to compensate and protect them. The vast majority were there for a paycheck and to play games and complain. If they had measured up to a mans standards, they would have been compensated accordingly.

mcewen

Posted by: bryan | September 10, 2007 10:26 AM

I recommend the book "Pitch Like a Girl: Get Respect, Get Noticed, Get What You Want" by Ronna Lichtenberg for a better understanding of how people with different personalities and styles propose ideas and negotiate. There may be ways you don't know about for negotiating in ways that do not seem out of character (I think the perceived aggression when women negotiate can sometimes be due to the presentation being out of character of the person presenting the idea). The title is catchy, but the material is good.

Posted by: bnerrie | September 10, 2007 10:42 AM

In my experience, women almost never negotiate salary when accepting a job. So foolish. As for this latest news that a majority of men would rather work with a woman who is a follower rather than a leader, I say -- "This is news?" I also don't think this finding would be limited to men if the study had included women. There are many days I'd prefer to be working with sheep.

I am not working to be liked. Appreciated for what I bring to the table, yes, but not liked for who I am personally. I think this is the first lesson anyone who's new to management has to learn. The people who report to you are not your friends, nor should they be treated as such, or you're going to have big problems at review time or if there's a matter requiring disciplinary action.

I have never not negotiated salary at the start of a new job, and have always come away with more than was originally offered and sometimes (because I always believe in aiming high) more than I actually expected, as in when I asked for an addition 10% salary plus another week of vacation and that they waive the one-year waiting period to be eligible for 401K contribution/match. I got it all, then. Made me think I should have asked for more! I have never had someone rescind a job offer because I asked for more. So what have you got to lose?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 10, 2007 11:13 AM

WORKINGMOMX, you hit a good point. I have found out that for may women, being liked is much more important to them than men. I think this factors into negotiating. If you are more worried about the other person liking you than winning, you are almost always on the losing side. My wife is like this, she would rather lose and be liked than win and be disliked. I never can understand that attitude.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 11:25 AM

WorkingmomX:

I mostly agree with you - but I hate that getting a job is like buying a car (at least the way it used to be).

Cause, ya know, some people are good at negotiating, some are not - and those people are in certain types of jobs, others are in other types - a company should pay me what I'm worth, give me a bonus of what I'm worth, and if they would like to play some games - such as seeing if I'll ask for more, then I'll go get a new job. That's about the way it is, ya know? If the company really wants me, they shouldn't be playing these games of 'what can I get away with.' Cause I'm gonna find out that others are making more than me, or talk with a headhunter, or something or other. Of course, leaving is an ineffective way to change a company (NO company, no matter what their attrition rate, that I have ever worked for, has ever admitted that they have a high attrition rate, no matter how high it was). But, on the other hand, I have responsibility to me and my family, first and foremost.

Definitely with age and experience, I'm better at some things and over time have gotten more of what I wanted, but the reality is that these studies are saying from the get go - i.e., RIGHT out of college, women are already earning less. Which means that they either don't have the skills or aren't being taught the skills they need. A shame, really.

But I've always thought that whatever it is, that is the way it is - i.e., if a company wants to play games when they make me an offer (eg, really lowball me cause they want to see how i'll bite) then that is probably not a place I want to be - I'd rather be somewhere where I do my work, and get recognized, with raise and bonus.

I know that may be naive, but that's the way it is.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 10, 2007 11:28 AM

People who know how to and have the guts to negotiate will ALWAYS come out better than those who don't, just the way the world is, don't ask, don't get. I plan on teaching this to my son AND my daughter.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 11:32 AM

I hate haggling as well, and I have done it sparingly. I share altmom's philosophy: if a prospective employer wants to play games during the hiring process, it's probably not someplace I want to be. Fortunately, I've always been hired on the high end of the advertised pay range.

I did negotiate a new schedule when I returned from maternity leave as well as a different pay schedule. I had an advantage, and my boss was uber competitive, so he admired the fact that I wanted to negotiate...and he accommodated my requests. I never had to ask him for a raise--he always came to me annually and gave me a raise, always generous. He had given me a signing bonus as well (he had hired me away from a competitor and offered me cash to leave without two week's notice).

I did have a female friend who made all sorts of demands while she was job hunting. She was frequently turned down during the negotiating process, but after nearly two years of looking, she finally found her dream situation (part-time, flexible with some work at home hours). Sometimes it's a matter of holding our for the perfect fit, but not everyone has that luxury.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 11:40 AM

This is a timely topic for me. Our review time just came around. At my company, we all get yearly raises, so I didn't have to beg for one. But I believe that a co-worker who has the same job title is making significantly more than me. So I want to approach my boss about getting the same salary. The problem is not that I don't want to approach her--she is very willing to talk with her employees. The problem is that I'm not supposed to know my co-worker's salary, so I can't bring that up.

I'm going to try to attack it from the angle that the HR person who hired me low-balled me and I was too imtimidated to haggle (which is the case--he was recently fired for being shady).

Which is why I also hate having to haggle. I had no idea how much to ask for, and I didn't want to risk losing the job because some dinosaur man (no offense, guys) in HR thinks that I'm being too uppity.

Posted by: Meesh | September 10, 2007 12:11 PM

Start high with your HR negotiation (I've always had to deal with an HR rep for my hiring salary, as opposed to my manager). Always start your negotiations high. They can only say no and hit back with another number.

And one memorable time, I gave that high number....and the HR rep said that was fine. I got a 40% raise that put me in the top of my earning bracket for my specialization without breaking a sweat!

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | September 10, 2007 12:23 PM

One job where I was hired, they kept asking me what I made at the job I left. I kept telling them that it didn't really matter, since it was a different industry, different job, nothing about the two were related in any way. AND I knew I was being underpaid at the first place. So I gave them a number I thought was better - and they gave me a little more. Which was STILL uncompetitive, and over time, my boss went to bat for me (even mid year, which was rarely done) i got some really good raises, without even saying anything (partially because when they hired someone else in the group, my boss wanted to ensure that she wasn't making more than me - but since HR had no idea, until they hired her, what to pay for the job, they didn't really know they were lowballing - it was a new job in a new industry).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 10, 2007 12:26 PM

atlmom and pepperjade, why do you think you hate haggling? Just curious. I find people either enjoy it (and are good at it) or hate it and avoid it like crazy. I happen to enjoy it, probably because I really, really, really like to be right. It's a family trait.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 10, 2007 12:31 PM

workingmomx: oh, I always love a good discussion (fight?). About issues, whatever (have any of you noticed that?).

I guess, in the times I've negotiated, I've been a little timid in doing it. As I said, as I've gotten older and more experienced, I've done more (although at one company, they absolutely don't give anyone 3 weeks vacation unless they've been there 5 years, no exceptions. I fought and fought for that - and did not get it. I guess getting experienced people wasn't important - and was one reason I left after less than a year (for more money, more vacation, shorter commute - no brainer) - cause I didn't think that that was the kind of company I wanted to work for).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 10, 2007 12:35 PM

happen to enjoy it, probably because I really, really, really like to be right. It's a family trait.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 10, 2007 12:31 PM

Really? do tell! ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 12:36 PM

"Fortunately, I've always been hired on the high end of the advertised pay range."

so . . . they saved money on you. You accepted as fact that the high-end of the posted pay range was all they had to spend and they didn't even have to pay THAT in order to get you. AND, the best part is, you think you got a good offer. They must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Posted by: gcoward | September 10, 2007 12:41 PM

part of the problem is that people think if i deal squarely with them,they will reciprocate. That is not true in business, it is all about the money. I am reminded of albert brooks in one of his movies. He practices saying no to the companie's offer a dozen times. When he meets the man, the man offers him a lowball salary, he immediately accepts it in a nervous sweat. The other man, surprised, merely says, i will get you your washroom keys or something like that.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 12:47 PM

atlmom and pepperjade, why do you think you hate haggling?

I guess it's a bit ironic that I hate haggling because I work as a lobbyist, which, of course, requires a great deal of negotiating (and begging for money during the appropriations process).

I know Patrick is spot on with "just the way the world is, don't ask, don't get," but I still find the process extremely distasteful. I, too, have some fear that I will be viewed as a shrew because of my gender, or just "pushy." But when the gloves come off, I am ready to get bare-knuckled and bloody. I just do it in a pastel-colored suit (skirt) and high heels.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 12:50 PM

pATRICK, I come from a long and uninterrupted line of biyotches. Mostly on my mother's side, but my dad's side had their share of overbearing matriarchs, too. Generations of women in both families have been bred not to care for the opinions of others. :) Mostly it's a positive thing, though I will be the first to tell you that I can be stubborn as heck and ruthless and sometimes just plain mean. On the plus side, I recover well from my mistakes and usually learn from them. So far, this combination has worked well for me. But I'm pretty sure my daughter has inherited all my faults along with my perfections. Payback is a b*tch.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 10, 2007 12:51 PM

My experience has been that negotiating pay is most effective when you are first being offered a job. This is when you have the most power over deciding your salary, and also when negotiating will probably hurt you least, in terms of the social consequences. I think most people expect some kind of negotiation in the beginning, at least.

In terms of negotiating a raise, it can be tricky. Years and years ago, at my first job out of school, I took a job where I believe I was low-balled on the offer, but I was young and insecure and just thrilled to be offered a job at all, so I took it. Two years later, after gaining a lot of experience and the obvious respect of my boss and team, I was convinced that I was worth a lot more. I liked my job and was happy there except for the salary. So I started looking around and found another job, doing the same kind of work, where I was offered 15K more than what I made at my current job. So I told the folks at my current job that I had an offer in hand for 15K more, and that although I was happy working for them, the salary was too low and I would switch jobs if they could not match my offer. I seriously did not have to haggle at all. My boss came back quickly with a decision to match my salary, and told me that I did a very smart thing by negotiating with an alternate offer. I did end up leaving them, for even higher pay, a couple of years later, but I never felt as if negotiating had any negative impact on me. To me, the trick is to have some kind of leverage when you go in. Like another job offer, for example. There is no point to complaining and threatening to leave if you don't follow it up. These are just empty threats, and do seem annoying, even to me. The trick is to have a plan with some leverage, and be willing to see it through. In other words, speak softly and carry a big stick.

Posted by: Emily | September 10, 2007 12:54 PM

When will this topic ever die?

The New York Times recently di a story on how women in their twenties OUTEARN men in the same age bracket. Women are far outnumbering men in college. And the actual wage gap DOES NOT EXIST when you compare individual positions (ie account to accountant).

The reason the wage gap exists is when you compare the entire gamut of men to women. THEN, the reason men earn more is because they do dangerous jobs that pay more.

Where are the female miners?
Where are the female skyscraper window washers?
Where are the female deep sea clearance divers???

Shouldn't feminists be working to ensure that each of these industries has a 50% participation rate for women?

When a male dies in a high risk industry, where is the feminist asking "Why didn't a sister die as well?"

Or is there only a glass ceiling above the jobs that have the best views?


Posted by: RosiePearl | September 10, 2007 12:57 PM

On the other hand, Emily, they now knew that you were looking - and could do a lot with the information. In your situation, maybe they didn't, but now they knew and if they so chose, they could let you go on your terms.

If I wanted to leave, I'd leave, if I wanted to stay, I'd stay - threatening, even in that sense, many times can backfire.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 10, 2007 1:00 PM

Posted by: gcoward | September 10, 2007 12:41 PM

Wow, you are able to infer so much from so little information. Perhaps you can use your omniscient powers for the greater good instead of simply slamming someone you don't know?

Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 1:00 PM

and sometimes, gcoward, they companies post salaries higher than they ever are willing to pay, to see what kind of response they can get, or to get people's attention, or whatever.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 10, 2007 1:01 PM

My experience has been that negotiating pay is most effective when you are first being offered a job

EXACTLY! Once you are in the system, then you hear the sob stories about how the company can't afford to give you a raise etc. Nothing more irritating than having someone new come in and make more than you then hear the excuses. They can do anything they want to, don't forget that.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 1:05 PM

I was perfectly willing to go, if they did not match my offered salary. I would not have stayed anyway. I don't suggest doing what I did unless you are willing and happy to take the offer you are using as leverage. I don't consider it a threat.

Posted by: Emily | September 10, 2007 1:08 PM

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 10, 2007 12:51 PM

My dad called this "Using the hammer". You must always be willing to use it, but it is best used selectively, otherwise it becomes blunt and ineffective. He was right. I see people who are too willing to use the hammer when a softer touch would be a better tool and vice versa, people afraid to ever use the hammer.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 1:13 PM

abrown2, I disagree that basing salaries on previous pay is discriminatory. It's pretty much the way the business world works, for sound reasons.

Suppose that I'm currently working in one job and making $100,000. I might be interesting in moving to your new job, but I'm not going to take a pay cut. And I'm also giving up seniority, some perks, possibly vacation time (I may drop from 5 weeks a year to 3), etc. So I'm not going to take the new job unless it pays at least $120,000 - that's reality; that's what I think it takes to make up for what I lose.

Now, somebody else - call her "Jane" - may apply for an identical job. Jane currently makes $80,000 (for whatever reason). Jane is qualified, and will be happy to move for $100,000 a year, because of her judgment of what it costs to make up for what she's losing.

So, the hiring organization has to offer me $120,000 per year, or they're not going to get me. Period. They can decide that that's above the pay scale and not hire me; that's up to them, but let's assume they offer me the 120K.

Now, are they obligated to offer Jane the 120K as well? Why? Is it discriminatory to offer her 100K? Why? She'll take the job. The company will save 20K, which is then available to use for some other purpose - pay bonuses, put into a pool to hire others, etc.

The bottom line is that from the business' side it's not discrimination to offer Jane less than me, it's smart business. Now, in my personal experience, it's also likely that if my performance and Jane's are equal, they're going to move her up very quickly to the same level as me, because they don't want her to get mad and quit. But the initial salaries weren't equal, and it had nothing to do with discrimination.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 10, 2007 1:13 PM

armybrat: you may be right, but once she figures that she can make $120k doing that job, she will look elsewhere, with a bad taste in her mouth about the company.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 10, 2007 1:16 PM

Emily: I was just trying to get you to think of it from the *employer's* perspective. now they know you're looking and they don't know you were perfectly happy (no matter what you say) - they know you were looking elsewhere. I was saying that just by you looking - they *could* consider it a threat - and then let you go *at their leisure* instead of whenever YOU gave them 2 weeks notice.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 10, 2007 1:17 PM

rosiepearl - if you are going to reference an article please provide the link.

Posted by: mom_of_1 | September 10, 2007 1:18 PM

Before I left for college, my father made sure that I was witness to one of his employment reviews. Afterward, he took me through, step-by-step how to negotiate a raise and otherwise present myself in a business environment. He also always took me along when it was time to buy a new car.

I am always thankful that he was my dad, but especially grateful at review time.

Posted by: minniwanca | September 10, 2007 1:18 PM

As a general rule, I used to hate negotiating and was terrible at it. Then I spent a lot of time in Hong Kong (and other Asian cities) in a previous job, and learned that negotiation is a way of life there. I would buy an item, and then watch somebody else buy an identical item 10 minutes later for 20 percent less than me. I was initially furious, but then decided that the problem was mine - I needed to learn how to play the game the way the game is played.

Since then, I've learned to negotiate here. I've become better at negotiating car prices, mortgage loans, etc. And yes, I negotiated my daughter's college financial aid package. The college she's going to came across with an additional $2,500 a year in scholarships when I started haggling. That's 10 grand over the course of her four years. Definitely worth negotiating.

(And as has been noted in this thread, my goal was not to be friends with the college admissions office; it was to get the best deal for my daughter/myself. As long as I kept that in mind, it was much easier.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 10, 2007 1:18 PM

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 10, 2007 01:18 PM

Great point about cultural differences!

Also, college financial aid packages...most folks probably don't realize there is some ability for negotiations. My intern negotiated tuition at her law school. She was going out-of-state, and she researched the stats on the average students at the law school. She noted that her grades and LSAT score were well above the average. Unfortunately, she had not been offered a scholarship because the funding had been expended and her application had been overlooked, even though her standings qualified her. She called the dean of the law school. He found some private money for her, and he gave her in-state tuition, even though she was an out-of-state student. The savings: $12,000/year.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 1:31 PM

atlmom: she may or may not. If she doesn't understand how the system works, she'll probably look elsewhere with a bad taste in her mouth. If she understands how it works, she might do what Emily did - go get a competing offer so the company will raise her pay to match. (And given that she's NOW making 100K, she's more likely to get an offer for 120K.)

Note also that in many companies, employee salaries are considered privileged information. At every company for which I've worked since leaving the Feds, disclosing your salary to anyone except an approved list of people is grounds for termination with cause - it's an item highlighted in bold in my employment agreement.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 10, 2007 1:32 PM

I never worry about the other person and here's why. If my haggling eats too deeply into their profit, they can walk away, it's their decision about what is best for them and my decision about what is best for me. Having said that you must always be careful not to cross that line because it is counterproductive. So many men usually) want a deal where they get everything and the other person gets nothing, which is not a deal, but really an insult.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 1:33 PM

And before anybody thinks I'm praising the current system as the ideal, I'm not. I'm simply saying that's the salary system as it works today. It favors those who know what they are worth and are willing to fight to get it. Changing it requires massive effort and I believe that it's broadly impossible - you can't get a law passed and enforced that requires uniform salaries for every job, because there are too many differences in jobs. So I've chosen to live with the system and try to work it to my advantage.

pATRICK makes a very good point, though, that some people - mostly men in my experience - do want to negotiate job conditions so that they get everything the company wants to provide and then some. That can be bad, because you're starting off with lots of folks - HR, management, etc. - mad at you.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 10, 2007 1:39 PM

That can be bad, because you're starting off with lots of folks - HR, management, etc. - mad at you.


I think I disagree. In that case, they probably see him as a star worthy of all that or they would not have given it to him. Just look at ceo packages, they are ruthlessly self centered.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 1:47 PM

My point was more directed at car buying etc. My friendis like that, he wants it at below cost and then gets bounced from dealership to dealership wasting a lot of time.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 1:49 PM

Posted by: gcoward | September 10, 2007 12:41 PM

Wow, you are able to infer so much from so little information. Perhaps you can use your omniscient powers for the greater good instead of simply slamming someone you don't know?

Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 01:00 PM

Defensive much, pepperjade? That's an interesting characterization, since, unlike you, I didn't attribute your comment to your blog name or call you naive. You seem a wee bit in need of a reality check.

Posted by: gcoward | September 10, 2007 1:50 PM

"That can be bad, because you're starting off with lots of folks - HR, management, etc. - mad at you."

I never get mad at the incoming. The outgoing, sure, but they've had time and opportunity newbies haven't. I have had some salary negotiations where I think "woo, not looking forward to annual reviews with that guy" but I don't get mad about it. Now, I had some crazy requests from new hires, including but not limited to requests for interior decorators to "do" their offices, wanting handicapped parking assigned when there was no physical need, and once someone wanted to bring in multiple babysitters as well as kids for "Take Your Child To Work" day (which coincided with the person's first week at work). But these all make for good stories and snickering behind the scenes. No one really gets mad.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 10, 2007 1:59 PM

Posted by: gcoward | September 10, 2007 01:50 PM

So you pulled my quote listed above my signature line, but didn't actually attribute it to me--what's your point? Your comment was not very nice, and it was a presumption based on very little information. Do you dispute either of these assertions?

Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 2:07 PM

My experience - and it may be rare - is that we desperately needed a new engineer to work on a project (the previous incumbent died in a car wreck). The salary scale for the position was 100K - 120K (the numbers have been changed to protect the guilty). The only qualified candidate demanded 180K - blowing away the entire salary scale. He also made other demands. He had us over a barrel and he knew it. We had to hire him because we couldn't do the job without him. On one hand: the free enterprise system at work; more power to him. On the other hand: most people in the department knew the situation; we knew he was making way more than us and it was only because of the particular circumstances. We knew he got the other perks. We didn't admire him; we started off resenting him. HR had to go all the way to corporate management to get approval to make the offer; it was a lot of extra effort for them for which he showed no appreciation.

Basically, the guy used the particular circumstances to get everything he could up front, causing resentment among his coworkers, managers and HR, and leading to us finding a way to remove him as soon as the immediate need for him had passed.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 10, 2007 2:09 PM

I hate haggling too. But I hate being taken advantage of more. So I just fake my way through it and always ask for more (in salary) or less (car prices).

Posted by: leslie4 | September 10, 2007 2:10 PM

ArmyBrat, how did everyone in the department end up knowing the situation? Just curious. I recognize that non-gossipy HR types are a bit of an anomaly, but there's gossip and then there's violations of employee confidentiality.

That situation stinks, but actually, you reminded me of one candidate we extended an offer to that bothered me. We needed a Lotus Notes developer with legal experience (harder to find than Britney Spears' dignity), and boy, did we end up with someone who knew what a rarity he was. He didn't stick around long, thank goodness, but it also wasn't as bad as the situation you've discribed.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 10, 2007 2:15 PM

I hate haggling too. But I hate being taken advantage of more. So I just fake my way through it and always ask for more (in salary) or less (car prices).

I really don't feel too often that I have been taken advantage of. Here's why. I believe it is up to me to do my homework and protect my interests not the other party. If I am too lazy to invest the time to protect my interests why should I be upset that someone got a better deal? I am always free to walk away. I take responsibilty for my decisions and have no one to blame but myself.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 10, 2007 2:18 PM

WorkingMomX, he made his salary demands clear during the technical interviews with the staff folks. So, those of us verifying that his resume was correct and he really was as good as he said were regaled with "I'm not coming here for less than this salary and perks." Add to that the moaning from the HR folks - we went to them asking "is Joe coming on board?" and got a long whine about "we have to go all the way up to Ms Smith to get approval to make him an offer that will meet his demands" and we had the necessary evidence.

(And of course the HR folks telling us, "no, you folks aren't going to get a pay raise to match him; we can't afford it" didn't help either.)

None of the HR folks blabbed details. We didn't know exactly what he got; it might have been 5 or 10K below the numbers he was throwing around; but we knew the ballpark. He was just an unpleasant person to deal with.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 10, 2007 2:23 PM

ArmyBrat -- Wow, what a jerk. No wonder he was available! It is amazing how one person can have an impact on morale, isn't it?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 10, 2007 2:26 PM

"Also, college financial aid packages...most folks probably don't realize there is some ability for negotiations.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 01:31 PM"

pepperjade, good point. I was lucky my mom worked at a college, because she knew you could do that. But law school was the one I thought was fun -- UT wanted me, I didn't qualify for the limited available scholarships, so there was a lot of nudge nudge, wink wink -- "your dad's in Texas? Well, HE's going to claim you as a dependent on your taxes this year, ISN'T HE? Because THAT would make you an in-state student." So even though I hadn't actually lived in TX since I was 5, I got to pay @ $3K/yr for in-state tuition vs. $12-15K/yr for out-of-state (and $16K+ at my other choice). Big help when you're paying your own way!

Posted by: laura33 | September 10, 2007 2:31 PM

WorkingMomX, you're exactly right.

But situations like this are why I said earlier that I think a law trying to ensure "equal pay for equal work" would be doomed to failure - it would be impossible to enforce.

Suppose that WidgetCo has requirements for six Senior Widget Designers. There are currently five on staff; there is one opening. The five current Senior Widget Designers make $50,000 each. WidgetCo is trying to hire a sixth Senior Widget Designer. The only qualified candidate refuses to work for less than $60,000 a year. What does WidgetCo do? If "equal pay for equal work" is required, there are three options:

A. Hire the new designer at $60,000 per year and give all current designers a 20 percent pay raise. ("Hooray" say the current designers; "boo" says the finance department.)

B. Leave the position open, and suffer the corporate consequences (whatever they are)

C. Redefine the open job to be a "master widget designer" and offer $60K for it.

I suspect that "C" will happen most of the time, which will defeat the original intent of the law and will lead to problems with HR anyway.

Mandating by law either of the other solutions is just unworkable.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 10, 2007 2:50 PM

Let a professional do it for you. Join a union.

Posted by: who | September 10, 2007 2:51 PM

Mom of 1,

Thanks for reading my comment. I usually don't post links because this site used to block them.

If this works, here is the link to the New York Times story about women outearning men:
http://news.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/08/03/for-young-earners-in-big-city-gap-shifts-in-womens-favor/

Here is an ABC News story about why men do outearn women in certain circumstances (ie they take dangerous jobs):

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/GiveMeABreak/story?id=797045&page=3

What troubles me the most is the way this column and other stir up needless resentment. Media seems already to be 100 percent male bashing by hateful women; we don't need more.

Posted by: RosiePearl | September 10, 2007 2:59 PM

"The bottom line is that from the business' side it's not discrimination to offer Jane less than me, it's smart business."

I agree, when you're starting from different points in experience and pay the business will and should make different offers.
But I thought the point of the column is that women are penalized for negotiating in ways that men aren't, and that is problematic to my mind, and raises a different issue.

However, it's unclear to me from the column what exactly is happening - when the study's author says, "men were always less willing to work with a woman who had attempted to negotiate than with a woman who did not" does that simply mean that they don't like her in some petty way, or does it mean that her work is substantively affected? Don't have to time to read the study right now, but Leslie, can you clarify?

Posted by: LizaBean | September 10, 2007 3:06 PM

"What we found across all the studies is men were always less willing to work with a woman who had attempted to negotiate than with a woman who did not," Bowles said in The Post article. "They always preferred to work with a woman who stayed mum. But it made no difference to the men whether a guy had chosen to negotiate or not."

This is interesting -- what about when the boss and the employee are female? Any differences? To me, THAT is a very interesting variable in all this.

Posted by: jmwashdc | September 10, 2007 3:07 PM


Posted by: gcoward | September 10, 2007 01:50 PM

So you pulled my quote listed above my signature line, but didn't actually attribute it to me--what's your point? Your comment was not very nice, and it was a presumption based on very little information. Do you dispute either of these assertions?


Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 02:07 PM

to refresh your memory, and since you are obsessed with this, here is my earlier comment:

"so . . . they saved money on you. You accepted as fact that the high-end of the posted pay range was all they had to spend and they didn't even have to pay THAT in order to get you. AND, the best part is, you think you got a good offer. They must be laughing all the way to the bank.


Posted by: gcoward | September 10, 2007 12:41 PM

My point is that if you interpret every comment in the universe as a "slam" even when someone does not call you about my name, you are too sensitive for a blog. I'd wanted to attack you, I'd have included your name. Your widdle feelings are hurt anyway and you are still more focused on being liked and being nice than being fairly compensated. Facts are neither "nice" nor "not nice", and my comment was not presumptuous. Blame the prospective employer. Blame the person on the blog. It's all easier than considering that some women create their own problems.

Posted by: gcoward | September 10, 2007 3:32 PM

...you are still more focused on being liked and being nice than being fairly compensated. Facts are neither "nice" nor "not nice", and my comment was not presumptuous.

Posted by: gcoward | September 10, 2007 03:32 PM

Your comments are nothing but presumptuous because you do not know my employment history. You posted a knee-jerk reaction to a single sentence I wrote and made all sorts of inferences about my employment history and my employers (hey, remember the old adage about "assume" making an "ass" out of "u" and "me"?)

You have no idea what I make in comparison to others holding my title (I am much better compensated than others in similar positions, something easy to research as this is all public record). In my career, I have only made one lateral move, but it was early in my career with a very prestigious publishing firm widely known to be a resume builder. I spent one year there, and I have greatly capitalized from that experience. Every other career move has come with no less than a 20 percent increase in salary. And there are other benefits that are important to me such as flex time that I have been able to negotiate.

Each one of your posts directed at me (whether or not you named me) are ugly. You call me too sensitive to be on a blog because I call you out for being mean-spirited. Each time I point this out, you get nastier and nastier, simply making my point. Did your mother raise you to be a jerk, or are you simply a disappointment to her?

BTW: Some men create their own problems, too...open mouth, insert foot.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 4:17 PM

Hey pepperjade - if you don't mind me asking, did you practice at a firm or in-house (or both) before becoming a lobbyist? How do you like lobbying versus your work before? I've been curious for a while and since today seems to be a bit slow figured I'd ask.

Posted by: LizaBean | September 10, 2007 4:35 PM

What a sad, sad, day when On Parenting has more comments than On Balance.

Ohh, ooh, (a song coming on)

You've lost that blogging feeling
whoa, hooo that blogging feeling
You've lost that blogging feeling
Now, it's gone, gone gone gone...

Posted by: anonthistime | September 10, 2007 4:46 PM

LOL, anon, good one.

But come on, anything about breastfeeding is bound to attract the posts, the only problem being that they're the same darn posts ever time. Let's take inventory:

-breastfeeding rocks and we should all encourage it! Check.
-sure breastfeeding is natural, so is pooping and peeing, what's the diff? Check.
-breastfeeding is fine, I just don't want to see it. Check.
-breastfeeding is disgusting and you are all a bunch of pervs. Check
-anyone who does anything critical or unsupportive of breastfeeding is evil! Check.
-people have a right to do whatever they want, this was a free country last time I checked! Check (note this argument can be made by either side equally well).

Am I missing any?

Posted by: LizaBean | September 10, 2007 5:01 PM

LizaBean:

My career path has been rather odd. I started my life as an editor, books and directories. I hated the commute to downtown WDC, so I took a job with a fire service organization in Virginia. I was the publications editor, but I moved into media relations and other duties as assigned. I worked very closely with our GR team and learned from a very talented lobbyist, though I did not do any GR work myself (I helped put together press events and advocacy pieces when we were pushing through important legislation). When I moved to Arizona, I took a job as a PIO, but I also am the legislative liaison for our agency. I work on criminal justice issues, and basically I have had on-the-job training from some very talented minds in the field of criminal justice.

I only have a bachelor's degree, but I've been fortunate. In three legislative sessions, all of my bills have been signed into law and I have been able to kill the bills we needed killed without leaving fingerprints (100 percent success rate). On the federal front, I work to secure funding for state and local law enforcement and prosecution. I love what I do--it's never boring, and with any luck, we are making our state a little safer : )

Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 5:10 PM

Pepperjade, that is an interesting career path! I didn't mean to presume you were an attorney, I was thinking you wrote about going to lawschool once before, I have a hard time keeping everyone's posts straight.

It sounds like you've found your way into a great position - I love hearing stories like yours.

Posted by: LizaBean | September 10, 2007 5:19 PM

Ha, LizaBean, I had an attorney I have been working with for two years ask me what law school I went to, and others I work with have made the same assumption. I did post a few days ago regarding law school during the "older parents" discussion. One poster noted with a bit of melancholy that he didn't have his first child until age 39 because he had been building his law career. I noted that had he done anything differently, he probably wouldn't have the family he now has and loves. I mentioned that when I question the choices that I made--such as not going to law school--my 11-year-old daughter points out that if I had done anything differently in my life, she probably wouldn't be here. She's right, and she's pretty insightful for someone so young.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 5:28 PM

Each one of your posts directed at me (whether or not you named me) are ugly. You call me too sensitive to be on a blog because I call you out for being mean-spirited. Each time I point this out, you get nastier and nastier, simply making my point. Did your mother raise you to be a jerk, or are you simply a disappointment to her?

BTW: Some men create their own problems, too...open mouth, insert foot.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 04:17 PM

Ah, irony. My mother raised me not to be an emotional, reactionary person who takes everything personally. Oh, she also raised me not to suggest, whenever I determined to take offense at a comment or otherwise get my feelings hurt, that a person's opinions somehow reflected on her parents.

Posted by: gcoward | September 10, 2007 6:21 PM

"I mentioned that when I question the choices that I made--such as not going to law school--my 11-year-old daughter points out that if I had done anything differently in my life, she probably wouldn't be here. She's right, and she's pretty insightful for someone so young."

Ah, I think that's what I was thinking of and had misread it to mean that you had gone. You must get a kick out of telling your colleagues that you didn't! Your daughter does sound great, good for you.

Posted by: LizaBean | September 10, 2007 6:40 PM

Wow. this was a bit dull, but it's pretty impressive that no one rose to the bait of mcewen upon his return.

Lizabean - great analysis on today's deliberately incendiary On Parenting blog, LOL. You captured the obligatory highlights.

Posted by: MN | September 10, 2007 6:55 PM

You made incorrect and derisive assumptions about my employment based on a single sentence. You said "you," so that was direct, not a general statement, regardless of whether you used my blog name. You referred to me as "defensive," "obssessive," and "in need of a reality check," etc. Are you REALLY stating there is NOTHING personal, mean-spirited or offensive in those statements?

And yes, I frequently do question the upbringing of consistently rude people. I would be disappointed in my daughter if she spoke to others in the manner you have done today, but I take the time to teach her manners and respect for others.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 10, 2007 6:55 PM

With apologies to anyone who loves (or likes) blue eyed soul!

To the tune of "You Lost That Loving Feeling"

You never write your lines anymore when I want a quip.
And there's no thoughtfulness like before in your fingertips.
You're trying hard not to show it, (baby).
But baby, baby I know it...

You've lost that blogin' feeling,
Whoa, that blogin' feeling,
You've lost that blogin' feeling,
Now it's gone...gone...gone...wooooooh.

Now there's no good recipe for any kind of pies
when I look for you.
And now you're starting to not read my replies.
It makes me just feel like crying, (baby).
'Cause baby, something in the OB is dying.

You lost that blogin' feeling,
Whoa, that blogin' feeling,
You've lost that blogin' feeling,
Now it's gone...gone...gone...woooooah

Leslie, Leslie I get down on my knees for you.

If you would only let the anons get through like you used to do, yeah.

We had a snark...a snark...a snark you don't find everyday.

So don't...don't...don't...don't let it slip away.

Baby (baby), baby (baby),
I beg of you please...please,
I need your lines (I need your lines),
I need your words (I need your words),
So bring it on back (So bring it on back),
Bring it on back (so bring it on back).

Bring back that blogin' feeling,
Whoa, that blogin' feeling
Bring back that blogin' feeling,
'Cause it's gone...gone...gone,
and I can't go on,
noooo...

Bring back that blogin' feeling,
Whoa, that blogin' feeling
Bring back that blogin' feeling,
'Cause it's gone...gone...


(tomorrow, maybe a U2 song?)

Posted by: anonthistime | September 10, 2007 7:09 PM

P.S.

I think that I will change my name to Songster.

And BTW, I never intend to be mean to anyone just poke a bit of fun or sometimes whatever name fits into the parody. (Except maybe for a certain person who cannot write anything under about 5000 words. I am not saying who.)

Posted by: anonthistime | September 10, 2007 7:16 PM

It's simple, asking for a higher salary reduces the value of your work, to the company, and women are naturally more sensitive to this then men are. Whether they feel that they deserve it or not, the market place will have a say but still they have to look their employer in the face every day. It is that trend which in general causes women to earn less than men, as employers feel that women will be less aggressive when it comes to securing business for the company, to demanding better performance.

Women are just a lot less willing to be demanding or to argue, in a business situation, they are more willing to "talk", they are not willing to be seen as demanding or argumentative and they are more eager to be seen as cooperative and communicative. Men do not have time for or interest in such nonsense except as it causes them to be seen as "sensitive and caring".

The so-called "salary gender gap" exists as a result of this. It's not really something to talk about, in an online forum. This just mirrors what goes on in the professional world. Men are out working and women are here talking about work and why they don't get paid as much as men. The solution is less talk and more action.

Posted by: oreilly1 | September 10, 2007 8:38 PM

Sigh.

Basing salaries on prior pay simply perpetuates the wage gap that does exist. I understand why people do it and that it can be beneficial to the business doing the hiring. But that doesn't mean it's not discriminatory, because it is. It means the businesses get to keep paying women less for the same job because other businesses paid less, and again, that's wrong.

Posted by: abrown2 | September 11, 2007 10:32 AM

"Media seems already to be 100 percent male bashing by hateful women; we don't need more."
Posted by: RosiePearl | September 10, 2007 02:59 PM

Um, how exactly do we create more than 100% male bashing?

Posted by: Meesh | September 11, 2007 12:11 PM

Leslie- move on please. You keep posting articles that have nothing to do with balance but rather push your own feminist agenda.

It's become old. The "poor me" line does nothing more than diminish the work any woman has done to earn her position and salary.

Posted by: martinajess | September 11, 2007 7:54 PM

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