Are women less effective negotiators than men because they are afraid of social disapproval if they come on too strong?
Research says yes. And it's not because women lack the capability or motivation to bargain effectively. The reason is, according to Dr. Amanatullah's recent research on the Role of Gender in the Workplace, that when women are in a negotiating role, while they are concerned about the issue at hand they are also concerned about social "backlash" if they do not act in a manner consistent with the traditional feminine gender role.
Women face unique constraints at the bargaining table, especially in salary negotiations or when assets need to be divided. To be effective, assertive and competitive tactics are often necessary to win, but women are often criticized when they use more dominant techniques, similar to techniques and demeanors of their male opponents. When women do use more gender-consistent concessionary (feminine) tactics, they usually end up with a smaller piece of the pie.
Interestingly, when women are advocating for someone else, their tendency to worry about maintaining their own feminine gender role does not play as large a role and they are often more effective.
Dr. Amanatalluh explores the situational moderators that free women to effectively leverage assertive bargaining tactics without fear of social backlash for violating gender norms.