"Asking, Bending, and Shaping: A Reconceptualization of Gender in Career Negotiations"
Hannah Riley Bowles (Harvard Kennedy School) will present preliminary findings and theoretical propositions generated from three qualitative studies of executives' career-related negotiations (co-authored with Bobbi Thomason and Julia Bear). The findings challenge the popular depictions that "women don't ask" when it comes to career advancement. The paper is motivated by a review of the existing literature on gender in career negotiations, which is primarily experimental and emphasizes women's disadvantage relative to men "asking" for higher compensation. Data on executives' career-related negotiations suggest that both male and female executives negotiate regularly for career-related opportunities that involve "bending" and "shaping" organizational norms. Research findings suggest gender constraints on career negotiations relate to gender incongruence rather than to gender differences (e.g., evidence suggests "men don't ask" for work flexibility).