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Why Women Don’t Ask: An Empirical Study Exploring the Underlying Mechanisms of Gender Differences in the Initiation of Negotiations
Research has repeatedly found that women initiate fewer negotiations than men. To reduce gender differences and foster equal opportunities, it is important to understand the underlying mechanisms of gender differences in the initiation of negotiations. Drawing on a model of initiating negotiations and gender role theory, we focused on the following three cognitive-motivational mechanisms: perceptions of the negotiation-outcome’s valence, expectations of being successful, and perceptions of negotiation’s instrumentality. Conducting an quasi-experimental scenario study with N=255 individuals we found: Whereas women and men likewise value the negotiation outcome (contradicting our hypothesis), women have lower expectations of being successful in negotiations and lower perceptions of negotiation’s instrumentality, two factors that reduce women’s likelihood to initiate negotiations (supporting our hypothesis). The results provide starting points for attempts to reduce the gender difference. With this exploratory study we hope to stimulate further research exploring the question why women don’t ask.