Facts vs. Fiction

Image by Chien Nguyen Minh

Image by Chien Nguyen Minh


Let’s bust Some myths, shall we?


Women are not good negotiators

Ha, if only you were a fly on the wall in my living room when I negotiate day in and day out with my spouse, in-laws, mother, and 2 strong-willed children. Sure, sure, that’s different. While that might be true, it doesn’t change the fact that women actually are amazing at negotiations. How do I know that? First of all, there are plenty of women who are negotiation leads or sourcing professionals in organizations. Do you know what sourcing professionals do for a living? You got it – negotiate. And guess what? Studies after studies show that when women negotiate on behalf of others (such as their companies or their employees), women tend to at least perform on par with men, and in many instances outperform men! So, let’s chuck this myth of women not being good negotiators right out the skyscraper window to its timely death once and for all!

Image by Max Kukurudziak

Not us...

Numbers don’t lie. Less than 5% of fortune 500 CEOs are female (and not for the lack of women trying to shatter the glass ceiling), and women still earn 80 cents on the dollar compared to men’s salary (thanks to Bureau of Labor Statistics gathering and sharing the data), yet every company touts that they don’t discriminate women. I have also talked to plenty of women who think they are paid more than men. I am guessing that those women are either satisfied with their pay or don’t know their market value; the former one is a decision that they are comfortable with, the latter one is misinformation.

I have yet to meet somebody who would say: “You know, you are right, I don’t think we have looked into this issue to understand if we are paying women less,” or “we have looked into this issue internally, and we do find it that women in our organization are paid less than men, but it’s due to the lack of asking on women’s part.” If you hear companies’ stories, it sounds like everybody is paid equally…yet, numbers don’t lie. Many companies don’t look into this issue though, it’s massive and complicated.


I don’t have the talent for negotiations

Nobody does. Ok, maybe there are far and few in between people who are truly talented in negotiations, but even they will tell you stories of their first negotiations and some amazing bloopers. In reality, no athlete has ever accomplished great things without rigorous training. I didn’t tackle a black diamond slope the first time I stood on skis (ok, I still haven’t conquered a black diamond, but I am a solid blue square). No public speaker has ever delivered a great speech completely unprepared. The point is – it takes training. Negotiations is a muscle, and like all muscles, with discipline and training, it will become strong and will make you look like a natural negotiator.

It takes training

I do good work

That’s what somebody who is average says. Yet, studies show that most women put in more hours than men, produce greater output and do not do just average but fantastic work! We don’t like to boast about our accomplishments, but there is also no reason to underplay them. There is a reason why women comprise half of the working population, we do great work! If we didn’t, we’d be unemployable (although there are plenty of people who can do great work and yet struggle to land a job). We need to stop undervaluing our talents, skills, and value that we bring to the table!


We shouldn’t negotiate because of backlash

Yes, backlash is real, but there are ways around and through it! If you choose not to negotiate because you haven’t quite conquered your fear of backlash, that’s fine, it’s work in progress, but don’t limit yourself from claiming more on your own behalf just because backlash exists. There are obstacles we face every day and we learn to push through and find solutions. Driving results in high risks of car accidents, but we take precautions with driving tests and paying attention; when we exercise there are times when we want to quit 10 minutes into a work-out, but we push through by picturing a goal we are trying to accomplish or focusing on something else in that moment. The point is – we struggle with obstacles on a regular basis, but we don’t let them cripple us into inaction. Don’t let the fear paralyze you.

Image by Muzammil Soorma

Image by Muzammil Soorma

Men have higher education

Wrong! Quick course in statistics: as of 2017, women between ages 18 and 24 earned more than two-thirds of all master’s degrees. Women in the same age cohort obtained three-quarters of professional degrees and 80 percent of doctoral degrees. Women between ages 25 and 34 held the majority of doctoral degrees. The number of Asian women with a master’s or doctoral degree surpassed that of Asian men. Women have had an advantage of earning the majority of master’s degrees in the U.S. since 1981. I think it’s safe to say that women are holding higher degrees than men, yet still earning less. Next!


Wait, you just used data from 2017, things have been changing, women now earn on par with men

Oh sure, sure, but let’s not ignore the fact that women have received the majority of master’s degrees in the US since 1981 (that’s before I was even born!), yet earnings data from 2017 wouldn’t make you think so. But ok, I bite. If you follow the link below you will see that in 1st quarter of 2019, for every $1004 that men (16 and older) earned, women earned $806 according to a report for 1st quarter of 2019.


Women tend to earn less because of their occupation

Oh good one. You mean like teachers? Surely there are more female teachers than men, or social workers. And yes, there are more teachers and social workers that are female but men in those industries still earn more than women (thank you Bureau of Labor Statistics). And even CEOs aren’t immune to gender pay gap as female CEOs still earn less than male CEOs.


We will talk in later blogs about what women can do to improve our position, what men can do to be our active allies, and what companies can do so we all thrive together!