February 25, 2008

Just Ask!

The other day I went to a talk, Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want by Sara Laschever. Ms. Laschever is a writer who along with her co-author, Linda Babcock, wrote Women Don't Ask and Ask For It. The speaker discussed some of the research and statistics with regard to how women basically do not ask nor negotiate when it comes to themselves. It is not that women are bad negotiators because women can be excellent negotiators especially when it is part of their job or for their family. However, when it come down to negotiating for themselves, such as for a better salary or better office space or a bigger budget, women don't ask. Often it just does not even cross a women's mind to even ask; women just don't even think to ask. Men, on the other hand, ask all the time and negotiating is something they do regularly. Check out some of the interesting statistics from their website, http://www.womendontask.com/.

By not asking or negotiating, women place themselves at a disadvantage and stand to lose a lot. For example, the speaker stated that by not negotiating a first salary, an individual stands to lose more than $500,000 by age 60—and men are more than four times as likely as women to negotiate a first salary. The reasons why women don't negotiate often has to do with feeling of apprehension toward negotiating, feeling so grateful that they were offered the job in the first place, and women do not know their market worth. To all the women out there, we are worth a whole lot; we are definitely worth as much as a man. But, the statistics show that women earn about 76 cents to every dollar a man earns for the same job (click here for the citation) and women with children earn even less, this is called the mommy gap. Now that just isn't right and I may get into that another time.

But even beyond negotiating for salary, women just fail to ask in the first place. Women don't think to ask for more money or to be moved to first class or for a promotion or for a discount when shopping. Many of the reasons that men get ahead is simply by asking. If we don't ask then we probably aren't going to get it, we can't just expect to just get what want without making it known that we want it.

This was a very intriguing talk (especially because this relates to the research I do at work and because I am a woman) and really got me to thinking. All you have to do is ask, it doesn't sound so hard. What does it hurt to ask? The worst that can happen is that the person says no. But women are afraid of rejection and we need to learn to get over that. It is important for women to be assertive and to learn to better negotiate for themselves and believe that they deserve it. Rememeber, there is also the possibility that someone will say yes, but you will never know if you don't ask. So my new motto is "Just Ask."

In keeping with my new motto, I decided to ask Mr. Bear to vacuum this weekend and not only did he vacuum but he ended up cleaning the whole kitchen and he also cleaned the blinds, which desperately needing dusting (not an easy task). Lesson learned: Just ask!



  1. Good point, I think women are socially expected to be less assertive and more gracious.

    I am pretty good at voicing what I want with the Mr, I could be more so at work though.

  2. I agree, Just ask. What's the worst that can happen? Someone tells you no? Big deal. Thanks for posting this though. Glad you got your blinds clean :-)