Salary Negotiation: Women DO Negotiate When Job Ads Offer The Option, Study Finds

Businesswoman interviewing job applicant
Businesswoman interviewing job applicant

It's almost 2013, and American women still earn an average of 79 cents for each $1 made by their male counterparts. Theories abound on why this is -- academic studies have suggested that women are less willing to engage in competition, have less human capital than men, or are simply less likely to negotiate on a salary offer.

But a new study from researchers Andreas Leibbrandt of Monash University and John A. List from the University of Chicago may debunk that final idea. The results, published in a working paper sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research, show that women are more likely than men to negotiate their salary when this is explicitly mentioned as an option in a job ad.

The research team discovered this by putting out job ads in nine different U.S. cities for an administrative assistant position. Some ads specifically stated that wages were negotiable; some did not. The researchers then gathered data from the 2,422 jobseekers who responded to the ads.

They found that when the ad explicitly mentioned that wages were negotiable, using phrasing such as "The position pays $17.6 per hour/ negotiable" or "The position pays $17.6 per hour. But the applicant can negotiate a higher wage," women were more likely to negotiate than men. Men were more likely to negotiate when the job ad read simply "The position pays $17.6 an hour."

The likelihood of applicants negotiating the hourly wage also varied by their geographic location. Women were more likely to negotiate in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, San Diego, and San Francisco, whereas men were more likely to negotiate in Denver, Los Angeles, Portland and Washington DC.

In their overall conclusion, Leibbrandt and List wrote: "There are no statistically significant gender differences in the willingness to negotiate wages." Applicants of both genders were willing and able to ask for more -- depending on the wording of the job advertisement.

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