Study Finds Women and Men Have Equal Wage Negotiation Skills

A new study from researchers at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and the University of Georgia has found that there is no difference in wage negotiation skills between men and women. This contrasts previous beliefs that men are better negotiators than women and therefore are more successful in salary negotiations. This, in turn, is said to contribute to the gender pay gap..

For this study, the research team conducted experiments in which participants were randomly assigned to the role of boss and employee. The pair would then negotiate a wage labor agreement that determined the payment each received for their participation. The participants were also administered surveys to assess perceptions of generosity, trust, trustworthiness, and negotiation strategies.

The researchers’ analysis of the data found that women do not obtain negotiated outcomes that are significantly different from men, indicating that persistent wage differences between men and women are not due to differences in contract negotiation skills. They also found that woman are not necessarily more generous than men, are equally motivated toward self-interested behavior in economic incentives, and are no more or less trusting than men of their superiors or subordinates.

“The data and tests we report suggest that stakeholders pay attention to the broader institutions that shape opportunities for and constraints on women as the context is more important for achieving equity than focusing on negotiation skills,” stated Holona Ochs, associate professor of political science at Lehigh University, and co-author of the study.

The full study, “Experimental Tests for Gender Effects in a Principal-Agent Game,” was published in the Journal of Behavioral Public Administration. It may be accessed here.

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