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Interview with Linda Babcock

Aired August 21, 2003 - 19:45   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Want to talk tonight for a moment about the difference between men and women and a bit of twist here too. Start with this. Women make less than men. Why they say, because they don't like to negotiate. Recent studies claim that men look at negotiating like playing a baseball game, while women compare it to a trip to the dentist's office. It's all documented in new book along with a startling news to if a woman fails to negotiate her first job it may end up costing her a million dollars over a lifetime.
Linda Babcock author of "Women Don't Ask" joins us from Philly.

Good to see you Linda. Good evening to you.

LINDA BABCOCK, AUTHOR: Nice to be here.

HEMMER: I have three sisters and they're all tough, and I think they might disagree wit a little bit of this. Let's get into it. Give me an example right now of how this theory plays out.

BABCOCK: Think about a situation where a woman is negotiating a job offer. That's a time when it has very big consequences for her to negotiate. I did a study which looked at students at Carnegie-Mellon who were getting their first job right out of their masters degree. What I found was 7 percent of the women negotiated their offer, whereas 57 percent of the men, that's eight times as many that negotiated their offer. As you said it could have really big consequences.

HEMMER: Go to the core for a second. Why do you believe this is case.

BABCOCK: That woman don't negotiate?

HEMMER: Right.

BABCOCK: I did a series of studies. The studies I mentioned, 7 percent versus 57 percent of women. I did surveys where I asked people about the most recent negotiated they initiated. And the estimates range from men negotiating between 2 and 4 times as much as women.

HEMMER: OK, but again the question is why?

I think you believe it's because of the way women are raised. Explain that. BABCOCK: That's right. I would definitely put the blame on society's shoulders. That society really teaches young girls from the day they're born to think about the needs of others and not think about their own needs. So they grow up not thinking about themselves not trying to get what they want, only thinking of others really.

HEMMER: Let me play the contrarian if I could. Is that all right? You talk about negotiations for jobs and contracts, you talk about bedroom negotiations, you talk about negotiating for a car. A man in general has interests that are different from a woman. A man probably wants to know how many CCs are in that engine he's walking all over the lot and has done his home work. A woman may not necessarily take the interest to do the home work. Whereas if it comes to buying clothes, maybe a guy walks into a store, I found what fits me and I'll buy it. A woman may shop for bargains for two or three days at a time. It might be we have different interests based on what the interests is.

BABCOCK: Well, that might explain some of it. But you think about job negotiations, you think about negotiations over who's going do the house work which is a big one for women. And among couples that work full time women still do two-thirds of the house work and so they could be asking for a little bit more help around the house. So I don't think it's just that they have different interests. I just think they're less likely to actively pursue those interests then are men.

HEMMER: All right, in case my sisters are watching I'll let this fly. Listen you have a couple solutions too and I want to get to them quickly and I'll take them off for you.

Recognize that no offer is sunset stone. Good advice to know, and a good reminder too.

Research the salary range for your position. Again, solid advice.

And don't mimic the styles and behavior of men. How is that?

BABCOCK: That's right. I think women need to find their own negotiating voices. Our society still has a double standard for the behavior that we accent from women and behavior that we accept from men. And so people don't want to see that men are -- that women are as aggressive as men. So, take an example where a woman gets another job offer. She's at her current jobs an comes into her boss's office, and she says if you don't match my salary I'm out of here. That approach, which a man might be able to get away with, may not fly with a woman. So she needs to take a different approach, which would be something like, hey, I got this other offer I like working here, I would like to find a way to stay. Can you find a way to match the offer. So, it's a little bit of a softer approach because people don't accent a very aggressive approach from women.

HEMMER: All right, Linda, you made your case. Thanks for coming tonight. A million dollars over a career, is that fuzzy math by the way? BABCOCK: No, it's not.

HEMMER: No. Thanks for being a good sport. Good to see you.


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