Arguing = Better Pay

By Tracee Sioux

Don’t argue.
This is not negotiable.
Just do what you’re supposed to to.
Quit complaining about it.

I catch myself telling my daughter this kind of stuff all day long. While we’re teaching daughters to be good girls are we costing them future professional success?

According to an article By Shankar Vedantam of WashingtonPost.com on MSNBC.com we’re giving girls the impression that to negotiate for a better salary is simply not nice.

Some Ivy League experts suggest the reason professional women are making 23% less than male professionals is because women do not negotiate their pay or ask for more professional opportunities. Even when told negotiating would be rewarded, only 58% of women did it in one study.

For good reason. Another study suggests that the interviewers and bosses have a real negative perception of women who negotiate and are less likely to hire or promote them. Women, it seems, rely on intuition and other factors – such as the gender of the interviewer – when gauging whether asking for a raise will be perceived negatively or positively. Men, according to all the studies in this article, were less likely to want to work with a woman who had asked for a raise, while they don’t mind when men asked for more.

Next time your daughter argues back consider giving a response that might help her better her assertive negotiating skills.

I like the way your thinking.
What you’re saying makes a lot of sense.
Perhaps we should reconsider that rule.
Maybe we should raise your allowance.

Would the world collapse if girls were given positive reinforcement for negotiating or would they simply be willing to take more risks, be more assertive with future authority figures and make more money as adults? Not just a tiny bit more, but over $300,000 is the current the estimate of what a lifetime of “accepting what is offered” costs female professionals. And those are the women who never took time off to have children.

As parents of millennial daughters we have a responsibility to prepare them for the world they will be entering, not the one we wish they were entering.

In that world they will be best served if they have some negotiation skills and feel empowered to insist on what they need. Perhaps then we should put less focus on being nice and more focus on being assertive. While we’re at it we might suggest to our sons that it’s okay for girls to ask for what they need.
Read the original article for more details on the studies.
4 replies
  1. JayMonster says:

    Unforunately the link does not seem to be working, but I would have to ask… why wouldn’t the same thing apply to boys?

    I mean, I obviously want to empower my daughter any way I can, and we do (usually) try to explain to our daughter when a “no” comes along.

    But boys as well as girls are very often given that “because I said so” and “just be good” lines. So why would it affect the girls any differently?

    Not disagreeing with you, just questioning.

  2. So Sioux Me says:

    Sorry about that link. I think maybe MSNbc.com may change their links after 24 hours for some reason.

    I think the answer to the question is that boys are naturally given more positive feedback for questioning adults or standing up for themselves.

    Consider your natural reaction to a boy and a bully at school. If your boy were to punch the bully in the face and deal with him once and for all, never to be bullied again you might give him positive reinforcement for standing up for himself. You might even take him to karate to teach him how to fight for himself effectively. You might have advised him not to let himself be pushed around.

    Now imagine your daughter punching out the girl who keeps calling her a slut in gym. You might wonder what the hell you’ve done wrong as a parent. You might demand the girl apologize for not being nice and being a “bigger person.”

    I think the issue is that we naturally give boys more positive reinforcement for being assertive or aggressive, whereas we don’t with our girls. My husband wrestles with our daughter, but he didn’t do it as young as he is with our boy. He also thinks it’s hilarious to make him growl and flex his muscles and tackle his sister. Our son is only 16 months old and already his aggressiveness is being positively reinforced. Yet, when our daughter argues with her friends at school we encourage her to make nice, even if the other girl is being mean.

    I think it is relevant to note that our boys watch us correct our girls and discourage assertive or aggressive behavior and that may influence their negative feelings about whether women should insist on more money in the future.

    I think the studies are suggesting that encouraging a little bit of aggression and a little less nice pays off financially in the future. But, the boys already get that kind of encouragement.


  3. shauna says:

    A very interesting post. It made me think (and will probably have me thinking more within the next few days).

    My sister punched a bully who was picking on our youngest brother when she was maybe 10 or 11. I don’t know whether or not she got in trouble at the time, but it’s something we all talk about now as a positive thing. No one bugged her or my brother after that. It demonstrates the kinda woman she is — she’s got grit. Always has, always will. And I’ve often thought, how can I ensure that my daughter will get a little of that grit running through her veins?

  4. zellmer says:

    Very important post. I am totally guilty of not asking for more for fear of being too pushy and losing out on the job. I think women aren’t taught to feel confident in setting their own worth. Rather, they accept whatever worth others place on them.

    Just discovered your blog. I like what you stand for.

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