Women Taking the Lead in Salary Negotiation

March 02, 2009

A fascinating study by Lisa Barron found one cause of the pay gap between men and women may be their different methods for salary negotiation. Especially in economic times like these, women need to know their worth and how to negotiate the best salary and benefits they can.AAUW Gresham, OR Salary Negotiation Workshop 2

Inspired by Barron’s research, on February 24, 2009, the AAUW Gresham Area (OR) Branch presented Women Taking the Lead in Salary Negotiation at Mt. Hood Community College. We were fortunate to have two top-notch presenters: Sam Imperati, an award-winning expert in mediation, negotiation, and conflict resolution, and Deborah Bond, one of our branch members. Imperati provided invaluable information on negotiation theory and offered tools, tricks, and traps to avoid. Bond, who has lots of experience interviewing prospective employees, provided specific tips on how to prepare for a salary negotiation.

Here are some of the best tips:

• Practice negotiating every day so it is second nature to you.
• Have your steps planned out ahead of time. Know your arguments, what the employer’s responses are likely to be, and have a reply prepared.
• Enter the negotiation knowing your own worth, believing you are entitled to a good salary, and not being afraid to talk about your accomplishments.
• Start negotiating with the highest number you can support with some objective data — it gives you room to maneuver during impasses.
• Use “interest-based bargaining” — focus on being collaborative/cooperative rather than competitive/antagonistic. Demonstrate why giving you a better salary is in the best interests of the company.
• Expect three impasses during the negotiation and devise a plan to break through them.
• Don’t take anything personally; this is a business negotiation, so don’t take it as a personal assault on your self-worth.
• Know the power of the words you use — try saying “proposals” rather than “positions” and “resolve” instead of “compromise.”
• Consider the total compensation package. If money is a sticking point, think about negotiating different benefits such as more vacation time, a better 401(k), improved medical benefits, etc.

AAUW Gresham, OR Salary Negotiation Workshop 1Students had the opportunity to practice what they learned by role playing. Attendees gave the workshop high marks and said they had learned a lot and felt better prepared to negotiate. This workshop was a wonderful first step in what we hope is a continuing partnership with Mt. Hood Community College.

About our guest blogger: Tricia Aynes is the public policy co-chair for the Gresham Area (OR) Branch. The workshop at Mt. Hood Community College was funded by an LAF Campus Outreach Program grant. Contact Holly Kearl for information about the grant.

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AAUWguest By:   |   March 02, 2009


  1. I like all of the tips given in this workshop – especially one ones that suggest there will be 3 impasses and not to take any of it seriously as this is a business negotiation (implication being the other side will be on the lookout for ways to lessen your worth in order simply to pay less and maybe out of competitive habit).

    There are a few more to keep in mind –

    1. to come with a short statement of why you are at the negotiation (what you bring to the organization that is special – “I’m here to provide StateUn with depth in American religious studies and to see if we are a good fit).

    2. by going slowly when it comes to making a commitment you show you are not dying for any job, you have other choices, you are not a pushover. Rushing to an agreement is what people do if they hate negotiating and want to get out of the room with anything, just let me outa here).

    3. do research first – find out how many raises in prior years, what the organization’s budget is like this and next few years if you can project that out, how enrollment is going, and how your contribution can/will help their bottom line.

    4. usually there is more than one person on the other side – analyze who your allies will be – talk to them in private, ask them how it is going? what do you bring to their department/institution? how strong is your application? how much ‘room’ do they have? what is their timetable?

    5. as the above shows there is a lot of information to be gleaned by asking questions in the public discussions and in the more private back channel talks with allies. If you think you know what is going on, you are probably wrong.

    6. don’t hesitate to hesitate – ask if this or that is ‘the best they can do given that most similar institutions are offering 20% more (vacation, health, etc.)… let them squirm a little – its only a game and both sides have to play or its not a game, its a one-way dialogue. Of course in a bad economy there are constraints that no one can change – find out what they are ahead of time so you don’t look silly trying to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse (grin).

    7. as stated in the talk, remember that there are many interlocking pieces and they may be more flexible on health care, or vacation, or research budget, or retirement contribution, or office space, or lab supplies, or travel budget, or reducing time-sucking committee obligations, etc.

    8. I’ve worked at various colleges and universities and noticed that during the negotiation process the institution dedicated to truth and higher learning acts more like a flea market bargaining session – so use words carefully, don’t take anything personally, be positive, decide to enjoy the give and take… its a growth experience.

    I’ve been working on the dynamics of negotiating for a while and have more suggestions here:

    Thanks for reading this.

  2. clarkp says:

    AAUW Riverside (CA) Branch has a blog post, “Helping Women Transition from the Cocoon of College to the Real World,” with suggestions for how women can “reprogram” themselves for success outside the classroom.

  3. Sean says:

    I would further add as considerations when negotiating your next pay raise:-

    – How can I quantify the value of what I offer the business?
    – What will it cost the business to replace me?

    Think about some “if – then” scenarios as back up options to getting the pay raise that you deserve eg. “I understand that there are budget concerns currently, but IF I am able to deliver a cost saving of $X, THEN I hope you agree that the pay raise I expect is justified.

    I definitely agree with considering the entire package – I have coached a number of people who time and time again would be knocked back on a 10% pay raise, only to instead request a 9 day fortnight for the same pay and have instantly approved – be flexible in your approach.

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