Why don’t women ask? Are they afraid of being told no? Do they not feel the need to? Authors Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever explore the downfalls of why women fail to ask in their book, Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation and Positive Strategies for Change. In their book, these women discuss issues such as the gender gap that is created due to starting salaries as well as the devaluing of women in organizations when they are few in number. Many times, people assume that women are being treated unfairly; however, this book brings to the forefront the various layers to the complex subject of why women acquire less than men.
Opportunity Doesn’t Always Knock
Women Don’t Ask opens by telling the story of a struggling urban pastor who failed to ask for help. She struggled to make ends meet; however, finding out about another pastor within her organization who asked for help to support his lavish lifestyle dismayed her. She was perplexed to find out about this; nevertheless, he asked for help. By Babcock and Laschever telling this story, it supports the idea of women failing to ask, in addition to their perspective of viewing their situation as fixed and absolute versus negotiable. This is one of the major barriers Babcock and Laschever believe is preventing women from getting what they want. This notion suggests that someone else is in control and that there is nothing that can be done about it. Although the pastor thought she was doing the right thing by not asking (She thought that the organization was doing the best it could to provide her family with adequate pay), her lack of asking placed her at a disadvantage to ask for what she needed (Babcock and Laschever, pg. 19).
A locus of control study revealed by a group of psychologists that women are more likely to consider that their conditions are restricted by others while men are more apt to believe that they can control their circumstances and opportunities through their own actions. This remains true for as many as fourteen countries (Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden in Western Europe; Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, in Eastern Europe; the former U.S.S.R, India, China, Mexico, and Brazil). Another variable to consider from this study, occupational status, further reveals that even higher level managers count their external forces as being responsible for their lives more than men do in the same jobs believe (Babcock and Laschever, pg. 26).
This is not abnormal according to psychiatrist Linda Austin, author of What’s Holding you Back?. Women have been subjected to the order of men until quite lately. “Women gained the right to vote in Wyoming in 1869 in Utah in 1870, no nation-state gave women national voting rights until New Zealand in 1893, little more than a hundred years ago. The United States followed in 1920 and Britain in 1924. No woman was allowed to earn a Bachelor of Science degree anywhere in the British Empire until 1875 (Babcock...