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What are gender differences in financial negotiations?

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Posted December 4, 2014

It is usually assumed that males are better bargainers than females. However, new meta−analysis shows that women negotiate better than men under some circumstances. More precisely, when behavioral strategies conceived as feminine were needed, females gained competitive advantage. This finding supports theory claiming that the ability to work out beneficial outcomes is highly related to socially constructed gender roles.

Image credit: Sam Churchill via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Image credit: Sam Churchill via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Competence to negotiate successfully is not only of paramount importance today, but also can contribute to gender inequality. According to the so called role congruity theory gender roles played by females are hardly compatible with the behavioral patterns needed in productive economic bargaining. Society expects that women will be helpful, concerned about welfare of others and men will be competitive and profit-making.

“Tangible negotiation outcomes indicate that women may be placed at a systematic disadvantage vis-á-vis men in negotiation, which may contribute to persistent outcome differences such as the gender pay gap where men’s salaries typically surpass those received by women,” authors of the study published in Psychological Bulletin explain. “If this reasoning is correct, situations that make negotiating and the female gender role more congruent should reduce or even reverse gender differences in negotiation,” the psychologists think.

On the other hand, meta-analysis of more than one hundred studies showed that men were able to make more advantageous deals on the average. On the other hand, observed differences were not so large and highly variable. In addition, scientists revealed that differences between sexes are highly dependent on the context.

“Notably, the results revealed a bargaining advantage for men under conditions of highest predicted role incongruity for women (when negotiators are not experienced, in negotiations with high structural ambiguity, and so forth), but a bargaining advantage for women under conditions of lowest predicted role incongruity (when they possess negotiation experience, are negotiating for an individual, and so forth),” the researchers report. For instance, when an individual had to bargain not for himself, but for the other person gender differences decreased strongly. It was also shown that payoff becomes more equal when more information about situation was available.

Article: Mazei, J., Hüffmeier, J., Freund, P. A., Stuhlmacher, A. F., Bilke, L., & Hertel, G., 2014, A Meta-Analysis on Gender Differences in Negotiation Outcomes and Their Moderators., Psychological Bulletin, source link.

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