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.
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?
by Victoria Pynchon