Women Don’t Ask Book Summary, by Linda Babcock, Sara Laschever

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1-Page Summary of Women Don’t Ask

Glass Ceilings

Women earn less pay than men. They get promoted less frequently and they are offered jobs that are less prestigious, less powerful, and less remunerative. They hit glass ceilings that men go right through. This is because women do not negotiate as well as men at the beginning of their careers.

Women don’t like to compete and negotiation is competitive, so they hold back. Because of this, they end up settling for less than they could get. If a woman fails to negotiate effectively on her first job, she will pay for that failure all of her career because subsequent pay increases are based on that initial salary. The power of compounding can turn a sum as small as $1,000 into a very significant amount over 20 or 30 years.

In today’s business world, it is more important than ever to be able to negotiate. Employees are often given the freedom to choose their own titles, salaries and even where they work. In many cases, people who get laid off have a chance to negotiate with their companies about the terms of their departure.

But women don’t negotiate. Consider how many roles a woman might have to play, such as employee, supervisor, wife, mother, daughter and friend. Women also need to be good negotiators because they face so many situations where they must negotiate with people in their lives. For example, negotiating is important when dealing with the school system or doctors or nursing homes or bosses at work. It’s also important when you’re divorced from your husband and want to get a fair share of the property and money that you worked hard for during your marriage.

Negotiating Gone Wrong

Men are more successful than women. Men have more power and leisure time, which is a primary reason for their success. One of the main reasons men get what they want is that they negotiate harder than women do. Women don’t ask for things as much as men do, and when they do, it’s often not enough to be considered equal to men in terms of pay or status.

A study showed that men and women who graduated from top-ranked MBAs negotiated for higher salaries than their initial offers. Men got an average of 59% more money, while women got only 41% more money. So if a man was offered $35,000 but negotiated it to $36,505, his salary would be 4.3% higher; on the other hand, if a woman was offered $35,000 but negotiated it to $35,945 her salary would be 2.7% higher than her initial offer.

If a man and woman both start at the same salary, but then negotiate their next raise with identical percentage improvements, the man will retire at twice as much money as the woman.

The Importance of Asking

An old saying says, “Who doesn’t ask, doesn’t get.” The other side always gets more than the person who is passive. Women tend to be passive in negotiations and lose out on opportunities because of this behavior. They don’t ask for what they want or need from their negotiation partners and simply accept whatever they are given. If both sides are male, then women will probably not get as much as men would if it was a man negotiating with another man.

Studies show that women don’t negotiate as much as men, even though they’re just as capable of doing so. This is a problem because it results in lower salaries and less wealth over time. For instance, if you accept your first job offer without negotiating, you could be leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table by retirement.

The most important step in negotiation is asking for what you want. If you’re willing to accept less money, it shows self-respect and confidence. The employer will be reluctant to argue with your low assessment of yourself because they don’t know you as well as you do.

Women Don’t Ask Book Summary, by Linda Babcock, Sara Laschever

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