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on Dec 2, 2011 | hide | past | favorite



I read "Women Don't Ask" and "Ask For It" in the past couple of years. I proceeded to try to ask for things, like being named the tech lead, a promotion, or just more money. It did not help.

In fact, I think it may have gotten me branded as bitchy for attempting to break out of the mold instead of "knowing my place". A lot of that was probably a function of where I was working, but this goes on at other places as well.

Part of the problem is that a lot of well-meaning individuals just don't believe this is actually happening. I can see how they might think that if they had never been in a position of having it happen to them. If you find yourself doubting this happens, do this: ask ten women you know if they had ever negotiated for something, and what happened when they did. Then draw your own conclusions.


Honest question: did you notice any differences between the reactions of your male coworkers vs. the reactions of your female coworkers?

I've noticed while watching my sisters and various girlfriends interact with other women that women seem to be faster to label each other negatively than most men I know would label other men negatively. Perhaps, however, I just hang out with mean women.


I didn't have any female coworkers. I was at Google for four and a half years and none of my three teams had any "diversity" beyond myself. Team #1 was a production service SRE team, while #2 and #3 were development/SWE roles.

I had to go up and out to talk to people on other teams. We wound up forming a little group of women in operations (think pager duty) and talked about these things. We all noticed a bunch of similar problems but I can't say I ever got any solutions out of it.


I'm not in any way suggesting that what's going on here isn't exactly the problem diagnosed in the article. It's very real--I've seen it, probably benefited from it, and undoubtedly perpetrate it at some point as well.

I've actually followed through this process with several female colleagues and the conclusion I've come to is that in most cases, male or female, the only way you're going to get ahead is to have another option. It short circuits the "bitch" reaction if you're saying that you want to stay but this other great opportunity has come along. You generally don't want to ask for something unless you have a credible BATNA ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_alternative_to_a_negotiate... )

It doesn't matter whether the boss you're negotiating with is male or female or is thinking you're a "bitch" or not--they're not going to give you much unless you have some sort of leverage. (The difference, of course, is that the man is less likely to face the same negative consequences for asking and being denied.) In many cases, even if your boss wants to give you something, he or she may not be able to do so without you having some sort of leverage.


> I can see how they might think that if they had never been in a position of having it happen to them. If you find yourself doubting this happens, do this: ask ten women you know if they had ever negotiated for something, and what happened when they did. Then draw your own conclusions.

I never negotiated for something work-related, and I'm a man, I've been in the workforce for the last 10 years. My wife negotiates all the time, she works in procurement, it is her job. We've recently split, I left with nothing but the laptop on which I'm writing this comment, and she had to keep all the rest.

Which brings me to part two, the unspoken elephant in the living-room, the fact that women will always be allowed to "win" the kids in a divorce, no matter how hard men will try to win them. I guess that's just compensation.


Totally agreed about asking ten women about their experiences -- with the caveat that you need to do it in a way that they'll be comfortable enough to be honest with you. It can be really eye-opening.

Unfortunately as you say, in many situations becoming a better negotiator doesn't help. In the long term, the key is to find companies, managers, and colleagues who 'are' aware of these issues and work to do the right thing. Alas, that's easier said than done.


Were you able to practice your delivery on some colleagues in the business? Because the way we communicate negotiation strikes me as absolutely crucial in not coming of as aggressive. Not that I don't believe you when you say that there's a double standard wrt the kind of negotiation behavior is accepted from men and women.


I can't say I was able to really practice this stuff.

Here's one thing which did happen, though: while describing a particular failure, I said "<name> and <name> dropped the ball on this one". One of the guys on my team really objected to that. He didn't like hearing it from me.

I thought for a second and said, "hey, wait, you don't react like that when <guy in area> says the same thing". He just got really quiet and never really addressed the issue. I tried again: "How is it that the same words coming out of my mouth are bad when they were just fine coming out of the mouth of some man? What year is this again?"

I find that's what tends to happen: they get quiet and mentally set some bit on me that means "evil bitch".


Outright accusing people of sexism absolutely will make them shut off to you. So will accusing them of puppy-kicking and any number of other things where they don't want to think of themselves as That Kind Of Person (even if they really do act that way sometimes) — but sexism is particularly volatile because there's an implicit threat of a lawsuit on top of the moral judgment. It's one of those things where, if somebody accuses you, it's probably in your interest to avoid contact with them.

I'd recommend reading up on the topic of persuading people if you feel shaky. "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is a pretty good classic starter. How you approach this kind of stuff can make all the difference in the world. (And I'm not saying that they weren't unfairly discriminating against you. But there are good ways and less-good ways to address that situation, and picking a fight should usually be a last resort IMO.)


Outright accusing people of sexism absolutely will make them shut off to you.

Yes. And respectfully and carefully playing to their ideals when they are uncomfortable with the reality your actions have just cast light on is a good way to move the bar, far more effective than such a personal attack. I don't know how it would apply in a work setting, but my ex husband had a big disconnect between his non-sexist ideals and the way he lived/assumptions he made. On more than one occasion, I played to his ideals and kept my mouth shut about his sometimes weeks-long grumpiness over the friction between his ideals and his unstated assumptions/expectations. This allowed me to gradually improve the latitude I had for pursuing my own goals in a situation where I was 100% financially dependent, with special needs kids in tow.

Humans are kind of like buggy software. There is often contradiction between what they believe and how they behave. That fact can be used as a force for good rather than just an accusation. You just have to put the emphasis on the part you want to grow rather than on the part you are offended by.


I can't believe someone is being told to read 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' because they called someone out about being sexist.

She is not the one who needs to change!


I'm confused. Was this an objection to your terminology, or just to hearing you criticize someone? Either one is totally preposterous, but I'm sitting here trying to imagine how someone could find the phrase 'dropped the ball' as offensive. Was it perceived as innuendo or something? Really now?


I don't think the individual in question read any sort of innuendo into it, and I certainly wasn't doing that, either. His take on it was basically it was an awful thing for me to say.

When you look at it, "an awful thing for you to say" can be parsed two ways. It might be an awful thing for anyone to say, or it might be an awful thing when it's coming out of the mouth of /certain people/. I considered both of those in an instant, and realized that it couldn't be #1 because he never objected to having someone else say the same sort of thing. That left me with #2.

As for the wording, I don't play baseball and I don't watch baseball, but I know that if you "drop the ball", you've basically let the team down. It was yours to make or break, and you broke it. There's enough of the game covered in popular culture to make that very clear: catch the ball or else.


No one likes to be called out for screwing up. It just depends who they'll take it from, whether they think the one saying it is qualified. For what it's worth, "what year is this again?" and similar sarcasm would probably sound rude coming from anyone.


Somebody posted this link on an earlier thread about this topic: http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm

Based on the theories in that talk, and on my own experience, guys are more likely to build little empires among other guys, even within a business. When you criticise a member of their "tribe" they will get defensive on this basis regardless of the facts presented because men have a tendency to value their social network over individual bonds (i.e. with you, by respecting your legitimate opinion).

If this is a good model of what's going on, it seems there's little you can do other than leave because it sounds like you're not interested in being a tribe member (if the guys even let you). It also makes me believe these tribes are going to be inevitable in a male-dominated work environment where the men haven't been selected or trained otherwise, which is something important for leaders to be aware of.


There are other dimensions to life besides the purely economic. In the social sphere, men are the ones who need to approach and women are the ones with all the options. It's weird that this is not considered, as the point for many (most?) men of earning money is to attract female companionship.


Another part of the problem is that you're fighting against cultural norms. People feel more uncomfortable turning down a woman than they do turning down a man. The whole thing is unspoken and runs deep.

Talking about it is worth something I guess, but it's going to take a lot of women putting themselves out there (and being punished for it) over time in order to move the bar.


Even as a man negotiating can have preprocussions, I've had my access to sales data revoked (turns out the CEO doesn't like it when you put dev milestones next to sales increases), been accused of blackmail (turns out the CEO doesn't like it when they offer you a vacation and you ask for a raise), accused of lowering employee moral (thanks for turning down my request for a raise, I decided to become a team player and get my team raises, sorry that cost you three times what i was asking for), etc. All because I was a programmer who wanted money instead of free sodas, and worthless stock options. I could ask tough questions about stock option grants, as well as speak convincingly to other employees about the pay structure and the EV of the options. When they give you some BS about the stock being worth X ask them about liquidity events. Yeah, it's great that you want to turn this biz into a billion dollar company but when that horizon is after the options expire it means the options are worthless. (It's best to ask these questions on separate occasions so the CEO is unaware of the play)

As a college dropout I sure don't 'know my place' and I really don't care to take the place society has designated my class. Sure, some people think I'm self-centered but fundamentally you go to work to earn money. If the team can't make sacrifices for me then I don't care to make sacrifices for it. As an employee I invest my time, and I expect a liquidity preference, just like the company's VCs do. A VC can always get their money back from some other source, I can never get my time back.

In the words of Ray Liotta in Good Fellas: Fuck you, pay me!


I run a startup, so I'm on the other side of the fence, but to me it sounds like you've encountered repercussions because of your attitude. As a founder, I love when people ask questions, do their legal diligence, specify their compensation requirements up front so no one's time is wasted, ask about market challenges, and yes, even negotiate for a fair compensation if I haven't been paying attention and it turns out they're underpaid. (Sometimes I loathe having candidates go elsewhere because big-cos can offer them a higher salary, but if I can't sell them on the vision/culture, I always wish them well).

What I cannot stand is people that are being jerks about it. The guy that opens the first five minutes of an interview with an antagonistic question about stock options before we even got through the first technical question. The smug guy that comes into our office and starts pointing out holes in our product/strategy barely after we said our hellos (I've only been working on the company for two years, don't you think I thought of that?). The gal that can't program her way out of a for loop, and claims to everyone who's willing to listen she's being discriminated against.

Believe it or not, not everyone is out to get you. Some people are genuinely trying to do good work, have everyone well compensated with equity, and pay fair salaries while not running out of cash too early. If you're unhappy with the compensation, nobody will fault you if you leave for greener pastures. It's the smug, antagonistic, cynical jerks that everyone hates.


I've met my fair share of founder jerks. Whether or not you and I are jerks is immaterial to the fact that when haggling over money, each side is in an antagonistic relationship. Each is rewarded for extracting virtually as much as they can from the other. (Personally, I think it's an absurd system.)

And I don't know about you, but I do know a gal who CAN "program her way out of a for loop" — I've seen her do it, such females actually exist — and if you're a decent listener, they may do you the favor of telling you about the extra crap they face due to men's kooky gender ideologies.

Anyway that said, I agree you can hack somewhat better pay out of a manager by handling them properly. Much of their professional world is social, so they are extra-sensitive to social cues. And software developers at this moment have far stronger bargaining positions than many other workers.

Among the advice that helped me (but YMMV):

* Reading _Getting to Yes_. There are alternatives to domination and passivity.

* Asking more than their highest range — if they negotiate me down, I did something right.

* Building my bargaining position by: increasing my relevant knowledge/ability, being a good presenter and listener/talker, overkilling the technical puzzles which you can do at home, and being able to walk away from a given deal.

AI prof Patrick Winston has helpful tips on giving presentations: (http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=9F536001A3C605FC)

* Note that the initial hiring decision is when the market transaction is made. If you get it right, having brought your forces to bear on it, it's out of the way. (David Graber's _Debt: The First 5000 Years_ has some interesting words on this phenomenon.)

Of course, the goal depends on whether you're negotiating with a wealthy firm, a cash-strapped startup, or a social justice organization.


"I've had my access to sales data revoked (turns out the CEO doesn't like it when you put dev milestones next to sales increases)"

Giant red flag. If someone's wiling to hide information that helps you do your job in order to minimize your credit, something is horribly wrong.


Well, you are being a bit of a jerk. It's justified in some circumstances (like, when the CEO is also being a bit of a jerk, which sounds like it's the case), but you still come across as very hardnosed.

The difference is, a girl who asks for a decent salary, rather than the first offer is often seen as being just as hardnosed as the guy who asks for a much higher salary, and stock options, then demands a big raise every time he's on critical path.

Being seen as hardnosed is not a good thing if you're not getting paid for it.

It's kind of like how guys who don't shower will be seen as unprofessional, but possibly brilliant; while girls who don't shower are just seen as unprofessional.


> In the words of Ray Liotta in Good Fellas: Fuck you, pay me!

I always ask new clients if they've seen Goodfellas.


What I like about this article is that it's not trying to point blame. It's not that men are actively trying to shut out women or making a hostile environment (although some probably are), it's that they do it in subtle ways without even noticing. It's not that women are too timid, it's that they are making the optimal short-term choice.

I'm reminded of a study I read a looong time back (sorry I don't remember where) that looked at how in situations where there is a shared armrest (think movie theatre or airplane) between two strangers, the men tended to be the ones who end up using it more. That wasn't malice, it was just an unthinking gesture. Ever since then, I've been hyper-aware of seat armrests. :-)

I think one takeaway from this is to be aware of the dynamics in your daily conversations and just watch. Pay attention to what's going on. If a man and a woman talk over each other, cast your eyes to the woman instead of the man if you think she has something interesting to say. Subtle things like this can make a big difference. If you do this in the office, the feel like you value them more and you will find yourself with new allies.

I would also suggest that if enough women ignored the stigma associated with being labeled a bitch, they would move the line is drawn a bit. That's not always possible but again, being aware of it helps.


McArdle has also written about this kind of stuff before: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2008/06/yes-soci... ; http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2008/06/a-pack-n... :

I've had about ten requests from men to explain the phrase "winning the cocktail party". None from women.

A male friend, who spends a not inconsiderable time cruising feminist sites, was one of those who asked what it meant. I find it odd to realize that most men don't observe something that is obvious to every woman I know: that there is a competitive male dynamic to groups that is completely different from the way female groups act. They don't know, of course, because unless the group is overwhelmingly female, the dynamic of any mixed group always defaults to male, with women fading back into supporting conversational roles. Maybe it's the kind of thing you can only observe by contrast to the extremely anti-competitive nature of female groups.

The easiest way to put it (and this is hardly original) is that men in groups are focused on their role within the group. Women in groups are focused on the group. Men gain status by standing out from the group; women gain status by submerging themselves into it--by strengthening the group, often at the expense of themselves.

Both these styles have advantages and drawbacks. I'm not trying to establish that one is better than the other. But I'm kind of shocked, though I shouldn't be, to realize that men don't even see it, the way they don't see catcalling, because it never happens when they're around.

I've seen this kind of behavior a lot more often since I began looking for it.

BTW, if you're interested in cognitive biases more generally, check out Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow (http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/...).


> I've seen this kind of behavior a lot more often since I began looking for it.

When females will start choosing the shy, introvert male individual over the confident, extrovert, win-it-all male than these sort of things won't happen anymore. Otherwise, it's just animal nature to behave in this manner.


"women gain status by submerging themselves into it--by strengthening the group, often at the expense of themselves."

Sorry, but that is complete bullshit. I have seen power struggles in female groups often enough.


>It's not that women are too timid, it's that they are making the optimal short-term choice. [...] I would also suggest that if enough women ignored the stigma associated with being labeled a bitch, they would move the line is drawn a bit. That's not always possible but again, being aware of it helps.

I wonder what kind of critical mass would be necessary to shift the norms, even in relatively liberal places, such that when a man and a woman both start talking, it's even odds which one will continue talking? '

I think it's also possible, at least in many groups, to have people look at the gestalt of your behavior. If you're friendly and helpful in one-on-ones, but in meetings tend to speak up more, then you're ought to be likely to be labeled a bitch (or whatever the male equivalent is) than if you're pushy and domineering all the time.


It'll probably end up being like something that approaches a limit more than exact equality. Five hundred years ago, women were barely better off than slaves. A hundred years ago, they couldn't vote. Fifty years ago, it was still considered impolite for them to have strong political views. Now, they are subtly discriminated against by men in a variety of contexts, but probably less so than at any time before in history. Fifty years from now, if we keep working on it, it'll probably be less. But I have trouble visualizing a model of the human brain where all of that discriminatory behavior is learned. Until we can edit our minds, there will probably still be some inequality.


If you're a man you don't want to negotiate with a woman: generally, as long as it's just words, women tend to win.

Men are basically wired that way and it actually makes us happy to have a relationship with a "difficult" woman—and by that I mean a woman who knows what she wants and a woman you can't take for granted, not the passive-aggressive complaint-filer difficult that many women are! However, as it happens, that sort of tension also engages a sexual dimension and, along with losing negotiations, that is something we don't want at work. Men usually can't simply fend off sexual tension so culturing it at work would make our days unnecessarily difficult, especially in these times when you might get into trouble for even flirting.

I can easily imagine it makes sense for a man to not even begin to negotiate with a woman and instead shrug her off as a pushy, difficult person. But I disagree with that men would want women that stayed a mom. They do want such women if they have the balls, but they want her in to bed. They don't want them in the office because that makes things a lot easier.


They do want such women if they have the balls, but they want her in to bed.

Thank you for saying this. I feel like this is a huge problem for me personally: Men often seem to like it that I am headstrong but it doesn't seem to help me get anywhere in terms of "business" because the reaction seems to very frequently be "and, god, I totally want to sleep with you". Which means if they are decent men (especially in a relationship), they often seem to just not want to talk to me at all or if they want to talk to me (because they aren't in a relationship), they don't really want to talk about work/business in any meaningful way. It makes it very difficult to find a path forward with some things.


If I am making a conscious decision to shut up every time a man and I start talking at the same time, then other women are engaging in even more extreme forms of self-censorship.

Ditto that. When I went to GIS school for two months, a two-thirds male field, in the last week I finally realized that most of the women sat in the last two rows at the back of class. A few women kind of floated around, sometimes in front, sometimes elsewhere. I was the only woman who consistently sat in the very front row. I was perceived of as extremely aggressive. I had not even noticed it until nearly the end of the program. I get into all kinds of hot water for thinking I'm just another person and behaving "just like anyone would (regardless of gender)" and having that interpreted as ultra aggressive. I strongly suspect that if I were male, much of my behavior would be interpreted as meek and mild-mannered.


I remember when I was participating in start-up weekend, one of the thoughts through my head was whoever the person sitting at the front I'm going to be on their team, whether male or female.

"Fortune favours the bold."[we won]

Why does aggression has to be bad? To me I kinda use it as a filter. I don't think I'm special, and a lot of other people have their radar set to identify aggressive people.


I think I'm just extremely hard for people to read/guage. So anyone who wants to simplify the matter boils it down to something negative and moves on. I'm multi-cultural. I've traveled. I have an associate of arts in humanities but then my (unfinished) bachelor's is a BS, not a BA (in environmental studies). I also have a certificate in GIS. I'm not easily pigeon-holed and I make a lot of people uncomfortable. Labeling that discomfort in a simple way is likely a defense mechanism for many people.

Edit: Will add that I was a homemaker for a really long time. People seem to think that means I "should" be meeker.


What I have found is that a given set of people in the larger population[for a particular system] will like you, just random probability. What you effectively have to do is to social proof yourself, ie make it seem to others that it is okay for you to be aggressive. What this means is not trying to appease the people that don't like you or even talking to them, until you have them over on your side you basically ignore them or keep your words to them at a minimum.

People in social situations tend to doubt their own judgement. So, if a certain number of people say you are cool, you are cool[ Three man make a tiger, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_men_make_a_tiger ]. According to asche confirmity experiment[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asch_conformity_experiments] it takes about 3 person to 1 to change an opinion.

Because you are staying away from people who effectively don't get you, they wouldn't have any other basis to judge you on other than your friends, who will be telling them how cool you are.


I have decided I have "star quality". And it's not something the big bureaucracy I work for is likely to tolerate well. I need to find a way to cash in on that. Historically, it's gotten me attention at times like a "star" but no money. I've had fan emails at times and gotten big fan-like reactions in some forums/email lists and one of my emails was quoted in a book (after being heavily edited down from 2000+ words to 300, with my signed written permission).

I want to be the Madonna of the Internet. <batts eyelashes -- in a star-like way, mind you, not flirting per se>


lol, In this case, what you will need to do is find a burning building and save it. Look for a project that has high rewards that no one wants to touch or can touch but you can make a difference.

For instance, you overheard someone higher up mention a problem that they have difficulty solving. They indicate somehow they don't know xyz, and you know a little xyz. Tell them you can solve it and how much you expect in return[Don't solve it for free]. It is easier to get notice that way.

It is something like how you see products on TV for solving people weight problems. Sometimes the building is so on fire that people are willing to try anything, and in your case if you can actually solve it - they will be exceptionally thankful.

The hard part is asking for a reward in return.

[Puts away my playbook.]


This is a risky subject to talk about. I guess it's mostly because everyone has a different background and view things differently. I do know however that different women will handle things very differently.

For instance, I'd open a door to a women and she'd put her best smile and thank me while another one might be offended that I'd treat her specially. (Happens to me from time to time in the metro.) Who's right? I guess both.. it depends of their background.

I always feel there's a blur when working with women between professionalism and amiability. I.e. If I talk with a colleague (man) about his weekend, it's fine. If I have the same conversation with a girl, it'd seem I'm trying to date with her. I don't know, maybe it's just me over-thinking things. What do you think?


I find its a far more a difference between "everything is about me" type personalities, and "it's probably not about me type personalities" than anything to do with gender. What I mean by this is the difference between people who think you drank the last coke to annoy them and people who think you drank the last coke because you were thirsty. I've found it with both men and women, one man I held a door open thought I was treating him specially because he was in a wheel chair. I hold doors open because it's a nice thing to do and avoids people getting doors slammed in their face, it's just good manners, if people want to think I'm doing it because I think that they are unable to it's quite fine by me.

I think you're over thinking it but it's good to be cognizant of other people's feelings, you'll go far further in life by catering to those who appreciate having doors held open and asking about weekends than you will by catering to the misanthropes who see ulterior motives in everything.


Interesting to see how many comments cite supposedly immutable male sexual dynamics as the cause of this phenomenon - like being unable to respond non-erotically to an assertive woman, or even to a woman who is simply friendly at work.

Could you ever imagine a woman's sexuality being invoked as a matter-of-fact justification for a workplace dynamic? Not by a man saying a woman's wonton behavior made him act aggressively, but as a result of actual female sexual agency? That is a telling cultural observation.


I think I like your comment, but I'm not sure because I didn't understand it. Could you (honest request), maybe try to rephrase it in a way that non-English-language-PhDs can also follow?

Like, what is "supposedly immutable male sexual dynamics"? I understand immutable data, but not immutable dynamics.


"Immutable dynamics" is an oxymoron, isn't it?


Nope, just a shorthand for "dynamics with immutable parameters". Parameters of a dynamic process might be immutable, no contradiction here.


Interesting to see how many comments cite supposedly immutable male sexual dynamics as the cause of this phenomenon - like being unable to respond non-erotically to an assertive woman, or even to a woman who is simply friendly at work.

I don't actually see any reason to assume it runs one way. The (male) song "I didn't mean to turn you on" comes to mind.


I agree with you, but I also think that there may be a case that male sexual (and more general) cognition/behaviour actually is less mutable than that of women, and that this might actually be one of the key gender differences. A meta-difference if you will.

Not saying that this is true, just that I am willing to entertain the possibility.


The point about deferring to a man when you both start talking at the same time struck a chord. As the CEO of an early-stage startup with two male partners, I'm slowly breaking myself of that habit when we're talking to a mentor.

It's painful to keep talking over my partner. Frankly, I label myself a pushy bitch when I do it. But the fact that I need to earn this title keeps me doing it.


I'm not sure I understand the assumption in the article, and in your comment, about it being important to talk over people. In my experience (as a male!), I tend to be most powerful when I shut up, listen to everybody talk for a while, identify their concerns and priorities, and formulate my position to make my point without wasting time stepping on toes (which you're likely to do if you speak before listening and understanding).

In meetings I tend to be the person who adds direction and focus because I'm the one paying attention to the big picture while everybody else is just trying to get their 2 cents in. (I've come to believe that this is a more 'female' way of thinking, interestingly enough.)


Long standing favorite anecdote from an article I read in a magazine eons ago:

A woman took a class on assertiveness in the 80's. The instructor was a female nazi-like drill sergeant type. They were expected to practice yelling in people's faces and being super pushy and the like. One day when it came her turn in class to yell at people and all that, the author of the piece said "No, I don't really want to do that. I like being nice to people." She was berated and told how she had no hope of getting anywhere in the world and so on. She continued to politely decline. The instructor finally gave up and moved on. The author quietly gathered her things and left the class, deciding she didn't want to complete the course. As she left, she overheard someone in the back row (who was dutifully waiting their turn to yell at people as they were told to) say "God, what a bitch!"

Don't confuse style vs substance.


I'm afraid you have completely lost me :)


I'm afraid you have completely lost me

It's okay (kind of expected, really). I've slept four hours a night the last three nights and was served a notice of eviction a few hours ago. I'm frankly shocked that I have yet to be downvoted into hell (which I was looking forward to viewing as "entertaining distraction" under the circumstances). It can't be a "good" impulse to jump into this topic under the circumstances given how many feathers I ruffle when I'm in good shape. :-D

Peace be with you.


Ah, unfortunately I don't have downvoting privileges as of yet. I'll be sure to downvote you when I do ;) Good luck with what sounds like a tough situation!


I've put you one upvote closer to being entitled to downvote me.

Any ideas on how I can raise between $50k and $100k in the next 29 days, drop me a line (or something).

Good talking to you.


No link to the study?

And isn't it a no-brainer that people might prefer working with people who don't make demands?

I suspect if you were to run an experiment with people being offered jobs, you'd find that more people got the job who didn't negotiate than who did negotiate. After all, a fraction of the ones who negotiate might have made unreasonable demands.

And sorry, but stuff like the "men don't let me speak in a discussion" just annoy me, because men actually face the same problem. There are simply people whose tactic in discussion rounds is to not let the other participants speak. I doubt that is a man thing.


I love how a piece in The Atlantic originated on Reddit!


I don't know why the downvotes, this is absolutely correct [1].

[1] - http://www.reddit.com/r/TwoXChromosomes/comments/hvv2m/i_wor...


Not necessarily, those statements aren't exactly new: http://www.womendontask.com/ Just because someone posted something similar on reddit does not mean that the article responded to that.


It was discussed on the AskReddit subreddit a few days ago, can't find the exact link right now.


I think men in general just prefer more submissive women.


I think you'd be pretty safe to generalize that out from men to society at large. In most cases, women are shunned for being individuals and taking risks. A girl who is slightly different from her peers as a child faces far worse ridicule (most of it being from the other girls) than a boy who is equally different. Both of my sisters experienced this in all of their schooling while my brother and I managed to be fairly popular, even though all four of us were known to be odd.


I don't know about submissive, but maybe.

Regardless, patriarchy still exists in many (often subtle(r) or more latent) ways. The original article is proof that it existed, and this just goes to show that there are directly observable reasons for it occurring. It shouldn't surprise people, despite the number of "well they should just ask" comments on the last article posted here.


To summarize the article: for some reason, the society is more willing to tolerate "pushiness" in males than in females. Why is that the case? Any ideas? (Other than "because it's always been like that...").

Not to bring down everything to sexuality, but a sexually pushy woman would be typically labeled a "slut." Which is why a woman will almost never ask a man out.


Not to bring down everything to sexuality, but a sexually pushy woman would be typically labeled a "slut." Which is why a woman will almost never ask a man out.

I'm female. I have found it's really tough to try to initiate a relationship with a man because the default is to treat me like a "slut" if I do so and then get really threatened/angry/hostile when it turns out I am not throwing myself at him sexually, I am actually looking for a relationship. I've concluded that what "slut" means is really "someone who indiscriminately serves the needs of men/others". "Women looking to serve their own needs" is something society doesn't seem to really have a term for.

(Anyone know of such a term? I would be happy to be proven wrong and enlightened that it's just my whacked life that lacks this concept. Men who sleep around tend to get called "Players" and the assumption is they are taking advantage/doing the using. "Slut" is generally a term we use to indicate the party being used/in the subservient position.)


Could the analogy be extended to give some clues on how to get a better deal without violating for-whatever-reason-ingrained reactions?

The standard advice for a single woman is not to ask men out on dates, but to "get yourself out there." What would the analogous behavior look like from a potential employee? Conferences? Blogging? Fine-tuning of resume?


That's an absolutely great point. What if, for example, prices for things like conferences were lower for women? I'm sure that even men would appreciate a higher female-to-male ratio at such events (and women would not feel like black sheep being there). In fact, this is such a win-win scenario that I don't understand why this is not being done currently.


I don't know if you saw Sarah Mei's talk[1] about getting the female population of SF Ruby from 2% to 18% in a year, but she presented a lot of interesting (and effective sounding, based on her experiences) methods of how to attract more women to conferences.

[1] http://www.sarahmei.com/blog/2010/02/20/scale-8x-slides-post... The audio is a bit long, but it's worth listening to over the slides.


Because lowering prices for women would absolutely be sexism, by definition, and to a certain extent would cheapen their presence there. Maybe it would be worth it. Maybe you could spin it as a promo so it wasn't as big a deal. But that's why.


> lowering prices for women would absolutely be sexism

Just like affirmative action got called racial discrimination... Not really. I guess that's along the lines of how one would spin it.


Perhaps, it's time we as a society reconsidered the negative connotations we attach to the word "slut"


From my male point of view, I would say our society celebrates women who are, so called, "sluts." They are the envy of many people, men and women alike. Nobody wants to be the religious nun doing valuable charity work that benefits the world, they want to be the next Kim Kardashian.

The women we place in high regard are women who know how to get what they want. If you ask a young girl today what she wants to be when she grows up, she will most often tell you she wants to be a celebrity – the most recognized group of women who fit that description. No one goes anywhere in that business by being passive.

Obviously it is a problem that exists. It is just a strange dichotomy where we, as a society, promote girls to be "sluts," while women still feel negative towards themselves to live up to those expectations. What can be done to fix the problem?


Stop celebrating "sluts"? If we're going to idolize pushy women, let's idolize the ones who make constructive contributions to society , which are hopefully the same standards we apply to men.


"""Not to bring down everything to sexuality, but a sexually pushy woman would be typically labeled a "slut." Which is why a woman will almost never ask a man out."""

Most people seem to prefer atavism when it comes to dating and bedroom activities. Those are some really deep patterns, and I doubt that they are solely the result of social conditioning.

A sexually pushy woman might be labelled a slut, but a sexually unpushy man will be labelled a beta male. Because, in the end, we are just chimps.


> but a sexually unpushy man will be labelled a beta male

True point: women pay closer attention to men's pecking order than vice versa. But then again, the reason women do this is likely because for men, pecking order is more closely linked to high salary / reproductive fitness than it is for women, which comes back to the point in the original article -- if women don't get promoted or given higher salary, then there is no major salary inequality among them (at least compared to men), so we are back to square one.


Women compete on looks, men compete on social status. The latter of which being to some extent fakeable through one's appearance and behavior.


With regards to the first question: I think it has something to do with the stereotype/expectation that women will be demure or unassertive. Assertiveness by a woman goes more against our expectations than the same level of assertiveness by a man, and so is magnified in our minds.


> Why is that the case? Any ideas?

The situation gives men an enormous advantage. And the vast majority of the 90%+ of Fortune 500 CEOs and tech startups and VCs who are guys don't seem to have any interest in changing it. Why do you think that's the case?


That's a major consequence, but I doubt it's the true cause. I think many of us (even women) have ingrained the negative stereotype of a pushy "bitch." When we imagine a particular woman as such, we do not consciously think about perpetuating any particular power hierarchy; we simply think that she's a "bitch". I'm not saying it's right; just stating the (obvious) facts.

My hypothesis is that the society unconsciously believes that aggressive "pushy" women would make bad mothers or would be otherwise somehow bad at raising children. But would they really? What if strong women give birth to natural leaders, to put it figuratively? Human societies have a tendency to place higher value on things like complacency and moral propriety, even if those things could be detrimental at the individual level, and a related tendency to ostracize those with high social intelligence or manipulative traits even though those traits could be beneficial at the individual level. What if the "bitch" stereotype is due to a similar effect?

EDIT: if you disagree with me enough to downvote this, I would love to hear your opinion on why precisely you disagree, so please comment.


Society is supposed to make sense now?


What makes those male power figures focus on excluding women specifically from their roles? I doubt they care about the gender of their competition; they just want themselves to be the ones in power and nobody else, man or woman.


I didn't mean to suggest that they're focused on excluding women from their roles.

It's more that the people at the top have gotten there in the current situation. So emotionally they tend not to want to acknowledge what a huge advantage they and their peers have had getting there ... and they don't have any incentive to change things in a way that reduces that advantage.


I agree that they have no incentive to help others take their power, I just don't see that their desire to hold onto such power is directly preventing women from taking it. I think it is far more likely that the fact that there are so few female role models in such positions of power is to blame for the extreme gender bias in addition to societal pressures to sacrifice a career for children–because obviously men can't stay home with the kids. That'd be unmanly.


Was discussing the origin article with my wife last night. One theory we had was that men actually negotiate and put a higher value on money in order to attract women. Perhaps men ask for more money at jobs because women value men with a high salary more than they value making money themselves.. :)


Probably Roy Baumeister's book Is There Anything Good About Men?, which discusses possible gender differences as trade-offs in evolutionary terms.


Reading the comments here it people here seem to be unaware that there is such a thing as male privilege. If you were talking about different behaviors such as bullying would you really bring up biological truisms that justify the bullies behavior or would you talk about the culture that enables this behavior?


the article is "Why Women Don't Negotiate" _with men_. Or do women also treat negotiating women badly?

Btw, i also don't negotiate. I just take best offer (last time i refused 2 before much better one came) and change job when i feel the market can offer a better one.


I’m guessing this is a followup to the recent HN post http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3289750, on how women not negotiating caused them to have lower salaries than men.


Has anyone examined the possibility that wage is less of a motivating factor for the women in question; they don't negotiate because they are getting something out of it more important (to them) than the money.


Yes, that's been examined and repeatedly discredited.


Could you cite the repeated examination/discrediting?


It could be that women have a better sense of fairness than most men. They might compare themselves with the "truly outstanding" employees (both men and women), and decide for themselves what is fair. Men probably have a more skewed view of what they can do; and still fight for money which doesn't match their skills.

Having said that, I might have to justify whether my argument subtly implies that there are fewer women who are in the "truly outstanding" category. Fewer of them spent their youth in basements staring at terminals, compared to the countless male nerds. There are exceptions of course, but there is still a statistical anomaly.

I hope this doesn't come out as sexist. I am not comparing intellect, just choices.

Edit: Replaced "genius" with "truly outstanding".


I am not comparing intellect, just choices.

There is some evidence, though, that men tend to divide up more between the extremes than women do. I'm not sure how much of this is "biology" and how much is socially fostered.

(and if it makes any difference to how people view the observation: I happen to be female).


I'm not sure that choices made in youth exclude people from developing skills later in life. So what if less women spend their youth in basements? After college (if you go), it doesn't matter whether you did or not.


Strange. I don't negotiate either when it comes to money.


Are you male? I never used to, either. Perhaps it's because I was raised by a single mother? :)


A question that I'm surprised hasn't been asked yet: Is this really universal, or is this cultural?


Ive noticed after working in the UK (from Aus) that people generally tend to speak over the top of each other, just in order to carry on in the conversation. Back in Aus there tends to be a bit more of a tendancy to let someone finish talking before they start.

Of course this could be entirely the two workplaces and not related to cultural differences by location.


Devil's advocate: could it have something to do with hardwired differences in the brain?


Why do you have to be a devils advocate? And why does it have to be some nebulous "brain difference".

Men and Women are different. Period. Trying to ignore it gets you nowhere.

Embrace the difference and work on letting everyone be themself to the fullest.


Well of course. The whole topic of inequality stems from us acting like the evolutionary animals we all are inside. The only way to counter act is to consciously analyze these behaviors and try to adjust ourselves.


Where do we draw the line between adjusting and losing ourselves?


[deleted]


There may be people folks who try to justify such "preferences" on evo-psych grounds, but I'd trust those citations about as far as I could throw them. Or, in other words: http://xkcd.com/775/


>When I'm in group interviews or meetings, frequently I will start talking at the same time as a man starts talking. Almost always, I shut up and let the man finish talking, and hope I'll get a chance to ask a question later.

And you don't see cause-effect in any of this? If you do this repeatedly, and then suddenly start asserting yourself, yes, it'll have a significantly larger impact on how you're viewed than if you did it from the start - people notice changes more than they notice the status-quo. Start strong and you'll be seen as strong. Start weak and start making noise, and you're complaining.

>They always preferred to work with a woman who stayed mum.

Did your findings include that this is true for men as well? Unless it's a very well balanced group dynamic, there's little room for two+ people to try to manipulate things. It tends to be one leader and many followers, or a group of leaders that magically work well together. That's called humanity, not masculinity, and don't even begin to pretend women get along better together than men do, because you can't measure it without measuring against the already-influenced culture you're looking at.


Read the next sentence:

>>"They always preferred to work with a woman who stayed mum. But it made no difference to the men whether a guy had chosen to negotiate or not."

I'm all for searching scientific studies to see what the researchers missed, but reading 17 words ahead would probably have taken you less time than writing a snarky comment.


And as to the second point? They admitted as much that men are more likely to negotiate - were those guys that had chosen to negotiate ones that had from the beginning, or ones that were silent and submissive until that point?




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