According to recent census data, on average women with a bachelor's degree still earn close to $20,000 less than men with same level of education. Many wonder why this is the case, especially now when the number of women in college outnumber men.
AOL Jobs recently interviewed Jennifer W. Allyn, managing director of Diversity for PriceWaterhouseCoopers, to discuss the salary gender divide and uncover strategies women can use when negotiating compensation.
Q. Do women initiate negotiations less frequently than men?
A. In research studies, men report initiating negotiations four times more frequently than their female peers. The insight for women is to expand our definition of negotiation and practice doing it more. Too often we think of negotiating only in terms of formal rituals like buying a car or negotiating a salary. But the reality is that most negotiations involve smaller, daily transactions like asking for a new opportunity, changing your role on an engagement, delegating tasks or requesting time off.
Broadening your view opens up possibilities and allows you to be more strategic about asking in both your professional and personal life.
Tips: Practice asking. Making requests is a skill like any other and becomes easier over time. Your mentor can help you brainstorm what you should be asking for because she's been there before.
Q. What are some common misconceptions about negotiation?
A. All negotiators are interested in two things -- the substance of what they are negotiating and the ongoing relationship with the other party. Women are frequently reluctant to negotiate because they don't want to damage a relationship.
In her book 'The Shadow Negotiation,' Deborah Kolb writes that, for women, "the issue is not whether to negotiate, but how to negotiate in a way that feels authentic and still gets us what we want."
Negotiation does not have to be a zero-sum game where someone wins and someone loses. The key to striking the right balance between substance and relationship is to focus on win-win options that create more value for everyone involved.
Tips: As you prepare to negotiate, use your mentor and colleagues as sounding boards to help you understand and anticipate the other side's perspective. Be clear about the value you deliver and why this exchange could benefit the other side.
Q. Can you recommend some strategies for negotiation success?
A. Harvard professor Hannah Riley Bowles describes the "pinch" many women feel when they negotiate on behalf of themselves. Asking for what you want can be difficult because it feels greedy or selfish. In contrast, she found that women were very successful negotiating on behalf of others. Whether it was their companies, their teams or their families those scenarios felt more legitimate and easier to initiate.
The goal is to connect what's good for you to what's good for the organization. Shifting perspectives can help you get out of your own way.
Tips: When preparing to make a request, imagine you're doing so on behalf of your team or a colleague. How would you make a case for them? What evidence would be most compelling? Pretend you are giving a friend advice on her negotiation strategy and then take your own advice!