In a recent Harvard Business Publishing blog on Can “Nice Girls” Negotiate?, Whitney Johnson writes about the negative repercussions of women negotiating for themselves in the workplace. Her piece is right on, from my perspective, and reflects the volumes of both qualitative and quantitative research recently about women, culture, expectations and the challenges they face in the nation’s workforce.
I’m always fascinated by the range of comments these posts elicit, from complete agreement to vitriolic dissension to something in between. One individual wrote:
“I’m not sure this is a man vs. woman thing. Men can ask for a raise/promotion and don’t get it as well. The trick is to ask for something that you know you’re able to get (studying your value in the company, as well as the company’s financial stance). Note that you don’t have to deserve the raise in order to get it.”
I’d bet you anything that this comment is from a man. Women know exactly what they’re facing in the workplace, yet men are still slow to recognize and acknowledge it.
My two cents:
I couldn’t agree more with this article. As a women’s career coach and work-life researcher, and from my national study with hundreds of professional women about the 12 “hidden” crises working women face today, it’s abundantly clear – with research to support it. Women are often viewed and evaluated negatively when displaying the same traits that successful professional men exhibit – speaking up, challenging, negotiating, using powerful language of leadership, etc.
It IS a gender thing, folks. But this doesn’t mean men are out to get us. Not at all. This means that women are dealing with deeply-ingrained cultural stereotypes and gender role definitions that create challenges in terms of what women can successfully say and do in business, and how they’re judged when they do it.
So what to do about this? Just what Ms. Johnson suggests…women must speak up for themselves, and be completely prepared for the consequences. We simply can’t change this dynamic and these stereotypes if we stay mum. It’s time for a breakthrough movement for women, and for that to occur, women have to act.
Question of the week – As a working woman, are you able to speak up and negotiate for yourself well? How does it go for you when you do? Please share – all comments are welcome!