Why do women “low-ball” other women? In response to my suggestion that we support other women by helping them find the resources to pay us our true market value, reader Rachel Kramer Bussel responded with so common a “woman’s” problem that I want to share it with you along with my prescription for addressing it.
I hate being on the negotiating side, whether someone is trying to lowball me or not. I just do not enjoy or want to have to argue for a higher rate, even though the few times I’ve politely asked for one I’ve either gotten a no, along with a reason, or a yes (we’re talking small amounts, but still, money is money) … . the more you know about what the going rate is, the easier it is to say “well, X is the going rate, and you want to pay me Y.” Without that information, I find it hard to try to bargain.
First, Why We Need to Ask for More
The wage gap is no secret even though the reasons for it always stir the pot of controversy. Here’s the real secret – we women expect less because we’re paid less and we’re paid less because we expect less.
So you see the problem. It’s a cultural set-up but we’re also our own worst enemies. So here’s the first reason why we should ask for more – because we set the bar for other women too low when we ask for or simply accept less than our true market value. “Setting the bar” is called an “anchor” in negotiation practice. The social scientists tell us any number entering the negotiation environment will influence the parties to move in its direction throughout the course of the negotiation.
It’s this “anchoring” effect that supports negotiation experts’ advice to make the first offer and make it aggressive (high if you’re the seller, low if you’re the buyer). It not only gives you room to bargain, but your opening number sets the high or low end of the bargaining range. It influences your negotiation partner’s behavior – even if the number is totally random.
That’s how susceptible we are to influence. Don’t just accept it. Use it.
When you accept too little for your work, you anchor women’s work as being less valuable than men’s.