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Attack the ball, girls!
23 February 2016
I coach a gorgeous team of 7-year old girls in the local Baseball club. We play t-ball against teams that mostly consist of boys. I was telling my teenage nephew that the girls in the t-ball team didn’t attack the ball, yet most of the boys in the teams we play do. He responded very innocently saying “that’s because Aunty Katrina, Girls tend to think about things before they do it, boys just do it and don’t think first”. I thought about how much this relates to women and how they hold back from negotiating and asking for more.
Because our team play mostly against boys, I am able to see the differences in their styles so clearly. With many of the girls, if the ball is hit near them, they will wait, think, and even look to see if another player will field the ball. Then if no-one else is going for it, they will field it. This delay means they most often miss the opportunity to get the runner out. On the other hand, when boys in the other teams see the ball hit, they attack the ball, chasing even their team mates to get to the ball first, and even having a bit of a wrestle to ensure they finish up with the ball.
I can relate this to the stories that women tell me about their resistance to negotiation. Women hold back, they think things through too long and either make their move too late or not at all. A study reported in the Harvard Business Review found “just 7% of newly graduated female MBAs from Carnegie Mellon had attempted to negotiate their job offer, compared to 57% of their male counterparts.”(1) Whilst in at-ball game, this might only mean we miss getting someone out, in a women’s career it can be much costlier. The authors of the book, Women Don’t Ask found that “the failure of women to negotiate can cost a woman more than half a million dollars over the course of her career.” Isn’t that enough of a reason for things to change?
Change is challenging in this area because it requires everyone to change, not just women. Here are some suggestions:
1. Organisations, Managers, Men and Women need to stop judging women differently for being high achievers and asking for more. Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg talked recently about how unconscious discrimination impacts women and girls saying “success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.” (2)
2. Women need to negotiate and ask for more. In a Fair Work Commission study in 2015, they found “One-third of women haven’t attempted to attain a better salary at their current employer, compared to only one-fifth of men.”(3)
3. Women should prepare for negotiations, but they don’t need to over think the negotiation to the point that it stops them from doing it. To help women prepare, I have developed a list of 10 Steps to Confidently Negotiate Salary. Download it here if you want to know how to negotiate your salary with confidence.
Question: What do you think needs to happen to make change?