Negotiations UApril 18, 2008
The AAUW Leadership and Training Institute program “Negotiations U,” held at Clarkson University this spring, was a great opportunity for me as a participant and as a student leader. When I first heard about the contest and the training program, I knew right away that I would like to participate as a student leader. This would be a great opportunity to learn about how to negotiate a salary. It turned out to do more than that.
As a student leader, I worked with a close group of students learning about the challenges women face in the workplace. Negotiations are everyday decisions, no matter how small or unimportant they might seem at the time. When you negotiate with someone and you do not take the time to sit down and discuss the situation, the other person will have the upper hand when it comes to any future decision. Negotiations U made me realize that from day one in any job or any relationship, I need to stand up for myself and what I believe in.
Student leaders met once or twice a week for a month, planning and narrowing down the most important areas to hit on in our limited training session. We broke our training session into four different pieces. Our first piece introduced the program, explained why we were teaching participants to negotiate, and described some of the unfair treatment women face in the workplace. The second part of the training talked about how to prepare for a negotiation. The third part discussed techniques and strategies in the negotiation. Finally, we gave the students the opportunity to role-play and to practice negotiation. Participants learned a lot about negotiations, and the training prepared them to begin researching and practicing techniques on their own to prepare for the skills contest to be held the next week.
At the skills contest, group leaders participated with the other students and were on the same playing field as the students we had taught the previous week. The judges for the contest were our two advisers and a guest from IBM. We all took turns telling the judge why we deserved a raise for a particular job. This gave us practice pitching our accomplishments and ourselves in front of a group.
The program was a huge success. I learned so much and became more confident in myself and in what I have done in the past. I know I can sit down with my boss and explain why I deserve a raise or an increase in benefits. I have seen how women are treated in the workforce first hand, and I do not think that it is fair that women are treated differently from men. I would like to take time during the rest of my life to help women realize that they have what it takes to prove that they are equal to men in every aspect and that they shouldn’t take anything less.
Note: The author of this post, Ashley, recently served as an AAUW Campus Action Project student team leader at Clarkson University in New York. One of seven 2007–2008 Campus Action Project grant awardees, the Clarkson University project on building effective negotiation skills among women was based on recommendations from AAUW’s Behind the Pay Gap research report.