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Linda Babcock to Address Dispute Resolution Workshop on "A Situational Perspective on Gender in Negotiation: When Does Gender Matter?"


 Linda Babcock, the James M. Walton Professor of Economics at Carnegie Mellon University, will address the Quinnipiac-Yale Dispute Resolution Workshop in a talk titled "A Situational Perspective on Gender in Negotiation: When Does Gender Matter?" on Monday, February 16, 2004, at 4:30 p.m., in the Faculty Lounge. The talk is free and open to the public.

Linda Babcock's talk will draw from her book, Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, coauthored with Sara Laschever (the introduction is available online). This work explores the question of why women are less likely than men to take the first step of negotiation, by initiating it.

In one study Babcock describes, she analyzed the starting salaries of graduates of Carnegie Mellon University. She found that women on average received 7.6 percent, or almost $4,000, less than men. She next looked at who had negotiated their salaries. "It turned out that only 7 percent of the female students had negotiated but 57 percent (eight times as many) of the men had asked for more money," Babcock writes. This despite the fact that the career services office advised all students to negotiate. "The most striking finding, however, was that the students who had negotiated (most of them men) were able to increase their starting salaries by 7.4 percent on average, or $4,053--almost exactly the difference between men's and women's average starting pay."

Babcock goes on to describe how this relatively small difference can multiply over a lifetime. With future annual raises predicated on this starting salary, the accumulated difference can be enough to finance "a higher standard of living throughout one's working years, financial security in old age, or a top-flight education for one's kids.... The impact of neglecting to negotiate in this one instance--when starting a new job--is so substantial and difficult to overcome that some researchers who study the persistence of the wage gap between men and women speculate that much of the disparity can be traced to differences in entering salaries rather than differences in raises."

Babcock's work explores the broader societal reasons why these differences in negotiating strategy exist. "By exposing the social forces that constrain women from promoting their own interests and limit them from getting more when they try, we hope to make it easier for women to do things differently."