Preparing for a presentation on negotiation and gender for 250 tax  attorneys and their clients later this week, I’ve been thinking a lot  about the ways in which men’s stereotypic gender roles make them worse  negotiators than women.

This question comes late to me because I’ve been following the negotiation/gender studies, most of which focus on  women’s supposed deficits. And that’s distracted me from wondering aloud  whether men’s gender roles keep them from making better deals than women  do.

Oh, The Humanity of Gender Blow Back

I’ll come back to the question whether men’s gender roles make them  worse negotiators than women after describing the most recent “gender  blow back” research.

In Speaking Out About Women And Power, U.C. Berkeley Psychology Professor Tania Lombrozo describes a study in which women experienced gender blow back when they voiced their opinions “too ardently.”

The social scientists conducting that study asked a group of men and  women to evaluate a hypothetical CEO who was described as offering  opinions as much as possible or as withholding opinions.

Unsurprisingly,  female CEOs who offered opinions frequently  were judged less competent and less suited to leadership than their  sister CEOs who withheld their opinions. Equally unsurprising was the  way in which the study judged the men – as more competent and better  suited to leadership if they spoke up often and less so if they didn’t.

Too many people have concluded from studies like these that women are  stuck between a gender rock and leadership hard place but men are not.

As Lombrozo is quick to note, however,

men faced a complementary  danger: of being perceived as poor leaders if they didn’t voice their  opinions. Members of both sexes were penalized for failing to conform to  traditional gender stereotypes.

Members of Both Sexes Are Limited By Their Gender Roles

Listen. We are all judged according to the culture’s expectation for  our behavior. Women are expected to be kind, patient, tolerant, loving,  giving and self-effacing. Men are expected to be judgmental, tough,  self-seeking and self-promoting.

We all suffer social sanctions – from harsh judgments to electoral defeats – when we step outside of society’s expectations.

Those who would caution us to “act our role” or suffer the  consequences, however, are missing the bigger picture, as are those who  urge us to ape the style of the opposite gender.

Let’s take negotiation as our example.

Should Women Negotiate or Give Up and Ask for Help?

Continue Reading:

by Victoria Pynchon

Victoria Pynchon is an attorney-mediator and arbitrator. She is also a principal in the She Negotiates Consulting and Training firm for which her blog “She Negotiates” is named. In addition to writing for the legal blog “On the Docket,” Pynchon also authored the book “A is for A**hole, the Grownups' ABCs of Conflict Resolution.