The Washington Post has just published Laura Kray’s 1400-word essay on why banning salary negotiations might be the way to narrow the persistent pay gap between men and women who perform comparable work.
Ellen Pao, the new interim CEO of Reddit, recently startled the business world by announcing just such a ban at her company on the grounds that negotiations leave women at a systematic disadvantage.
Kray, professor of leadership at Berkeley-Haas and one of the nation’s leading researchers on gender and negotiation, cites a raft of rigorous academic studies – including many of her own – that confirm a real disadvantage.
While men are expected and encouraged to be tough negotiators, she writes, women are expected to be collaborative and warm. Tough female negotiators are often frowned upon.
“As we practice it in the United States, negotiation is a man’s game with men’s rules,” Kray writes. “At bargaining tables, women’s biggest obstacle isn’t that they can’t learn to be ‘more like a man.’ The real problem is that most people – men and women alike – don’t want them to be more like men.”