Do Women Avoid Salary Negotiations? Evidence from a Large Scale Natural Field Experiment


Harvard Gender Action Portal, September 01, 2014


The gender wage gap persists, as men are still paid more than women, even when taking into consideration job level, differences in preferences, and family leave. Gender differences in salary negotiations may also be an important determinant of existing gender differences in labor market outcomes. Over the past two decades, laboratory and survey evidence has suggested that men are significantly more likely to engage in salary negotiations than women. However, when women negotiate on behalf of another person they are as successful as men. To test how workplaces with negotiable salaries affect applicant sorting and the likelihood of starting negotiations, the authors of this study designed a randomized control trial of nearly 2,500 job seekers. After receiving inquiries about positions posted on online job-boards, researchers altered whether the negotiability of wages was explicitly stated. Using data from applicants, the authors were able to detect both the nature of sorting and the extent of differential salary negotiations by gender.

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