How Women Can Get What They Want in a Negotiation

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Tara, an MD/PhD who works for a large public university, contacted one of us (Suzanne) a few weeks after participating in a negotiation workshop she ran, wanting to share some positive news about successfully negotiating an 11% pay increase. A faculty member for six years, she had come to learn that she was not only underpaid but also had a higher teaching and clinic load than others in her group. She, like many women, accepted her job offer without negotiating.

How common is Tara’s situation? Research suggests that 20% of women never negotiate at all. A woman who opts not to negotiate her starting salary upon graduation will forgo an average of $7,000 the first year, and will lose between $650,000 and $1 million over the course of a 45-year career. Why would women leave money on the table? There are several factors. When selecting metaphors for

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Whether a Husband Identifies as a Breadwinner Depends on Whether He Respects His Wife’s Career — Not on How Much She Earns

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Professional careers are notorious for demanding that people be single-mindedly devoted to work. It’s a demand that is often especially acute for men, who face rigid expectations that being a successful man requires having a successful career, and that “success” means power and money.

Men have traditionally satisfied these expectations by taking on the role of a work-devoted breadwinner, supported by a wife who does not work or who places his career first. But many heterosexual men today are married to women who pursue demanding careers of their own; moreover, many women expect that their husbands will support their careers and be more engaged in family life than previous generations of men have been.

The contradiction between the traditional image of the successful man and the reality of men’s lives creates a conundrum: How do men make sense of who they are in relation to their work,

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“Lean In” Messages and the Illusion of Control

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Shana Novak/Getty Images

In a world in which men dominate leadership roles, should we focus on changing the systems and structures that favor men at women’s expense? Or should we emphasize the tactics individual women can use to get ahead?

Our research explored this question. The first message, that it’s processes and organizations that need to change, has been gaining traction in more recent years. But the latter message has been inspiring and motivating to many people; it’s solutions-oriented and individualistic, appealing especially to Americans who tend to appreciate DIY solutions to societal problems. Plus, it has the benefit of seeming to help women now, rather than waiting decades — or even centuries — for societal change.

We suspected that by arguing that women can solve the problem themselves, advocates of the “DIY” approach may imply that women should be the ones to solve it — that it is their responsibility to do so.

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“Lean In” Messages and the Illusion of Control

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Shana Novak/Getty Images

In a world in which men dominate leadership roles, should we focus on changing the systems and structures that favor men at women’s expense? Or should we emphasize the tactics individual women can use to get ahead?

Our research explored this question. The first message, that it’s processes and organizations that need to change, has been gaining traction in more recent years. But the latter message has been inspiring and motivating to many people; it’s solutions-oriented and individualistic, appealing especially to Americans who tend to appreciate DIY solutions to societal problems. Plus, it has the benefit of seeming to help women now, rather than waiting decades — or even centuries — for societal change.

We suspected that by arguing that women can solve the problem themselves, advocates of the “DIY” approach may imply that women should be the ones to solve it — that it is their responsibility to do so.

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4 Ways Women Can Build Relationships When They Feel Excluded at Work

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A male friend of ours recently had a realization. He was walking through the bar at a private golf club, looking for a colleague he was meeting for dinner. The dark-paneled bar was filled with men and they all seemed to know each other. Will wasn’t a member of the club, and he felt a little out of place. When he found his friend and they sat down at a table, he felt more comfortable. Then he looked around and realized that only about five of the 35 people in the large room were women. Even if they were members, these women stood out in this mostly male setting. He could blend in so easily. These women didn’t have that luxury.

Welcome to our world. As female executives, it’s sometimes difficult for us to fit in, but we need to be in that room nonetheless.

There are typically

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In Collaborative Work Cultures, Women Carry More of the Weight

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In any organization, people apply unspoken rules and understood norms to get collective work done — in other words, they collaborate. Over the past 15 years, my team and I have observed and facilitated thousands of meetings and helped hundreds of teams come together to do work, and we have found that collaboration looks different depending on a variety of factors.

The value people place on relationships is a strong influencing factor on whether and how they collaborate. Relationship-heavy cultures are marked by inclusion, personal connection, and relationship-based decision making. They tend to be friendly, warm places to work. Another factor is how strongly the people in an organization value rapid progress. People in organizations with an execution orientation thrive on urgency and take quick steps toward an end goal, rarely missing a deadline.

In our experience, organizations that have a relationship bias combined with an execution orientation

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Why Women Volunteer for Tasks That Don’t Lead to Promotions

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Here’s a work scenario many of us know too well: You are in a meeting and your manager brings up a project that needs to be assigned. It’s not particularly challenging work, but it’s time-consuming, unlikely to drive revenue, and probably won’t be recognized or included in your performance evaluation. As your manager describes the project and asks for a volunteer, you and your colleagues become silent and uneasy, everyone hoping that someone else will raise their hand. The wait becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Then, finally, someone speaks up: “Okay, I’ll do it.”

Our research suggests that this reluctant volunteer is more likely to be female than male. Across field and laboratory studies, we found that women volunteer for these “non-promotable” tasks more than men; that women are more frequently asked to take such tasks on; and that when asked, they are more likely to say yes.

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How Managers, Coworkers, and HR Pressure Women to Stay Silent About Harassment

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Sex-based harassment is pervasive in the workplace, and it’s disproportionately experienced by women. It can include sexual harassment but is more broadly defined, including any behavior that derogates, demeans, or otherwise humiliates someone on the basis of their sex. One study of women in the military and law found that nine out of 10 had experienced gender-based harassment in their careers.

Most victims stay silent about their experiences. Studies suggest that victims stay silent because they fear consequences at work or feel that nothing will happen as a result of speaking up. What has been studied less is how this silencing occurs.

In 2016 we set out to learn about how female victims are silenced — who influences them and what exactly happens when they try to speak up. We interviewed 31 early and mid-career academics employed in business schools at nine research-intensive universities in the UK.

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Most People Are Supportive of #MeToo. But Will Workplaces Actually Change?

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The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continue to create a tidal wave of media activity and increased awareness of sexual harassment and misconduct. But have they created positive changes in workplaces? Are people seeing healthy and lasting improvements in their organizations as a result of these movements?

To answer these questions, we asked 1,100 people in an online opt-in survey about the changes, if any, they’re seeing in their workplaces. The results are far stronger on promise than on delivery — showing that these movements have raised hopes, expectations, and some concerns. Now it’s up to leaders to deliver on the momentum and address some of the worries.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of the respondents in our survey describe #MeToo as “healthy,” and 45% say talking about harm they are experiencing is now safer. In fact, 41% of the women in our survey know someone who has shared their

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If You Say Something Is “Likely,” How Likely Do People Think It Is?

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People use imprecise words to describe the chance of events all the time — “It’s likely to rain,” or “There’s a real possibility they’ll launch before us,” or “It’s doubtful the nurses will strike.” Not only are such probabilistic terms subjective, but they also can have widely different interpretations. One person’s “pretty likely” is another’s “far from certain.” Our research shows just how broad these gaps in understanding can be and the types of problems that can flow from these differences in interpretation.

In a famous example (at least, it’s famous if you’re into this kind of thing), in March 1951, the CIA’s Office of National Estimates published a document suggesting that a Soviet attack on Yugoslavia within the year was a “serious possibility.” Sherman Kent, a professor of history at Yale who was called to Washington, D.C. to co-run the Office of

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Survey: Female Founders Are (Finally) Paying Themselves More

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Nashville-based entrepreneur Sherry Deutschmann built her company, LetterLogic, into an enterprise with $40 million in revenue before selling it to a private equity firm in 2016. As the firm’s founder, Deutschmann went seven years without giving herself a raise, and paid herself the relatively low amount of $225,000, even after the company crossed $30 million in sales. Her board encouraged her to finally take a pay hike. She says “Absolutely, it’s the truth” that men she knows in comparable positions paid themselves more. And she wonders now if this hurt her.

“Interestingly, when I sold my company, I suspect that the PE firm who bought us thought less of my business acumen…simply because I was paying myself about half what my male counterpart was making,” Deutschmann said in an interview. “It didn’t matter that I was running a faster-growing company and had zero debt. They likely

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Research: Women Ask for Raises as Often as Men, but Are Less Likely to Get Them

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It’s a concrete fact that women earn less than men do. The true gender pay-gap is not known with certainty, but, when comparing equally qualified people doing the same job, most estimates by labor economists put it at 10% – 20%.  The crucial question remains its cause. One common explanation is that women are less likely to negotiate their salaries. We’ve seen this in both bestselling business memoirs like Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and in previous studies like the research-based Women Don’t Ask.

Gaining access to a more recent, and more detailed, dataset allowed us to investigate this question anew. What we found contradicts previous research. The bottom line of our study is that women do “ask” just as often as men. They just don’t “get.”

Even we were surprised by the results. We had expected to find less asking by the females. Instead, we found that,

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Back in September with Season Two!

We’re delighted to be making more episodes of Women at Work for you.

Download this podcast

Help shape our conversations by responding to these questions. You can answer as few or as many as you’d like:

  • What work decisions do you struggle with? Do you overthink? Stress about making the best choice? Is there a strategy you’ve found useful in making complex decisions? Ever wonder if being a woman influences your decision making?
  • Tell us about a time when a colleague took credit for your idea: What happened? How did it make you feel? Did you speak up about it? And what about when you’ve made it clear that you alone were behind a success: How did you do it? How did taking ownership make you feel? What questions do you have about claiming credit?

It’s Not Always Clear What Constitutes Sexual Harassment. Use This Tool to Navigate the Gray Areas.

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The #MeToo movement started by activist Tarana Burke gained momentum in October of 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano invited women on Twitter to respond “me too” to her tweet if they’d experienced sexual harassment or abuse. Women did so across social media, telling their stories and revealing the extent to which so many had lived in silence.

The Time’s Up movement was founded shortly thereafter to foster fairness, safety, and equity for women in the workplace. Part of its purpose is to alter the power system that favors men and thereby provides a foundation for discrimination and hostility toward women.

The passion was palpable. A cultural shift had taken place, and not just for women. Men began to consider their roles; some engaged in soul searching, wondering if they’d done enough as bystanders to stop sexual misconduct directed at women. Others, however, felt threatened. They worried

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What’s Holding Women in Medicine Back from Leadership

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For over 25 years, women have made up at least 40% of U.S. medical students. This past year, more women than men were enrolled in U.S. medical schools. Yet overall women make up only 34% of physicians in the U.S., and gender parity is still not reflected in medical leadership. Women account for only 18% of hospital CEOs and 16% of all deans and department chairs in the U.S.—positions that typically direct the mission and control the resources at medical centers.  Women are also in the minority when it comes to senior authorship (10%) and Editors-In-Chief (7%) at prestigious medical journals.

Reasons for gender disparities in the C-suite of medicine are manifold. For example, women do not achieve promotions or advancement to leadership positions at the same rate as their male peers.  Highly qualified women do

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Why Workplaces Need to Be Fairer to Working Dads

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Each year around Father’s Day, some businesses take a moment to express well wishes for the working dads among the staff. Unfortunately, that sensibility is too often short-lived.

Seventy-three percent of U.S. working fathers say there is little workplace support for fathers, according to a new survey from Promundo and Dove Men+Care. (I have a partnership with the latter and had the chance to weigh in on some of the questions as the survey was developed.)

It gets worse. Not only do many men fear negative repercussions if they were to take the full amount of paternity leave available to them, but 21% fear that they would lose their job if they did so.

This fear is sadly well founded. It’s based on cases in which this has actually happened. In my book All In, I told the story of a lawyer who took

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In Interviews, Female CEOs Say They Don’t Expect Much Support — at Home or at Work

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Women who have already made it to the top say that the only person who will get you there is yourself.

While many researchers and observers have examined the structural and other barriers that limit women’s progress through the ranks, we wanted to explore a different question: how have the few women who have made it to the very top overcome those barriers? Our aim was to discover how female CEOs explain their own success, and to develop recommendations for supporting women’s leadership careers more generally.

We embarked on an in-depth study of the leadership journey of 12 female CEOs, most of whom lead large, global corporations. This was part of a larger study on the same topic, covering a total of 151 global CEOs — 12 female and 139 male. According to Grant Thornton (2016), globally, only 9% of women in senior management are

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Your Flex Work Culture Doesn’t Help Employees If It Hurts Their Careers

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When you think about who needs flexibility at work to manage personal and family responsibilities, who comes to mind? If you are like most people, you envision a working mom.

The prevailing assumption is that working mothers are the ones who want and need flexibility at work. To be sure, many working mothers still shoulder the daunting double shift of full-time work and primary child care responsibilities, and many likely want jobs that give them more flexibility to juggle these important responsibilities. Nearly two decades of research shows that working flexibly is akin to a career torpedo for many working moms: Those who do it are often “mommy-tracked” into less demanding, lower-paying positions, and in the worst-case scenarios, they’re pushed out of their jobs entirely.

But we suspected that flexibility is not just a “woman’s issue.” Everyone needs flexibility at some point in their careers, whether to

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What Managers Can Do to Keep Women in Engineering

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Engineering faces a serious gender-based retention problem. Despite all the efforts encouraging women to study engineering, over 40% of highly skilled women who enter the field end up leaving. Much has been written about why women in the field leave, but we wanted to better understand what encourages some women to stay.

In 2014 we interviewed 34 women engineers in two FTSE 100 firms in the UK. Ten of the engineers were in the early stages of their careers, 19 were mid-career, and five were in late career. Over 80% had undergraduate degrees, and 43% had children. The two companies they worked for were PET and TTD (both pseudonyms). PET supplies fuel, energy, lubricants, and petrochemicals, while TTD is one of the world’s leading suppliers of gas and diesel engines.

PET’s engineering workforce was about 12% women, and TTD’s was about 9%. Both have intransigently masculine cultures but have been

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Research: How Sexual Harassment Affects a Company’s Public Image

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Krzysztof Dydynski/Getty Images

The wave of sexual harassment reports in recent months has resulted in the dethroning of high-profile men in media and entertainment, sports, business, and politics. At the same time, social media, such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, have made public conversation about the issue hyper visible and easier to organize — as was the case for the #MeToo movement.

Unsurprisingly, companies are now frantically reevaluating their anti-harassment policies and introducing mandatory trainings — in part to prevent sexual harassment and subsequent public backlash, at any cost.  But what can research tell us about the general public’s responses to sexual harassment claims? How do sexual harassment claims shape perceptions of organizational gender equity broadly? How do sexual harassment claims differ from claims about other forms of misconduct, such as financial fraud? We sought to answer these questions in a series of experiments, with approximately 1,500 participants in the

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