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Women Negotiating Like Pros

UC Law Women teaches women how to fight the gender wage by giving its members the necessary negotiating techniques. 

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

Professor Marjorie Aaron. Image from UC Law Faculty Website

UC Law Women hosted a Salary Negotiation Event on March 21, 2018. As a group, UCLW wanted to provide a tool its members could use to fix gender related issues. For this event, UCLW focused on backlash women face when negotiating their salaries.

Professor Marjorie Aaron was the guest lecturer who crafted a presentation that focused on her work in negotiations and her own experience. She has not only participated in many negotiations herself, but also has written several scholarly articles on the topic including one about gender and negotiations. Professor Aaron delivered an interactive lecture that engaged in the students’ interests. The lecture started with general negotiation techniques that men and women could all use also known as gender-neutral techniques. These included: not disclosing what you want from a firm; not disclosing your information; learning about the firm; use anchoring; and do not overshoot.

Nikita Srivastava (’19) introducing Professor Aaron.

Later on Professor Aaron  focused particularly on anchoring because of the backlash women face when using this technique. Anchoring is the initial step taken to set up a zone of possible agreement. This means anchoring can help a candidate and employer find overlap on terms they agree with. Anchoring hurts women because of gender stereotypes. Usually anchoring can be aggressive so many women often fear this will hurt them while negotiating.

According to Professor Aaron, women often avoid using aggressive techniques and instead use soft anchoring techniques. Since women are afraid of coming off aggressive, they will often ask indirect questions to learn more about the salary and benefits of a firm. For example, one woman may ask, “I was doing some research on other firms and notice they were offering health benefits to their employees, so does this firm offer something similar?” By using soft anchoring, women are hoping for a less societal backlash. According to Professor Aaron, women blame themselves for not asking important questions. However, soft anchoring can take that pressure off women by demonstrating their knowledge. When women research before a salary negotiation, they appear more qualified and interested.

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Professor Aaron describing anchoring.

Unfortunately, soft anchoring can force women to operate within the gender stereotypes. For example, women will often ask questions that demonstrates their obligations to others like children or family. Women are then seen as the primary caretaker, which could hurt them during a negotiation. Professor Aaron acknowledged that finding a balance between soft anchoring and societal expectations is difficult for many women.

Here are a few tips from Professor Aaron that women can use while negotiating:

  • Avoid using verbal upticks.
  • Don’t show your nerves.
  • Don’t be over friendly because it does not show power or confidence.
  • Expand your physical presence by wearing blazers, sitting up straight, and taking up as much space as possible.
  • Avoid head-bobbing because it shows submissiveness.
  • Take time to think.

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