WHU General

How Women Can Do Better in Negotiations

Learning about Strategies at the Female Entrepreneurs' Day

Women are less successful in negotiations than men. This is the discouraging result of a meta-analysis of 51 studies involving a total of over 10,000 participants carried out in 2015. The analysis shows that men achieve significantly better outcomes in negotiations than women in terms of economic success. Professor Fabiola Gerpott of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management is well aware of this problem. At the IHK Koblenz Female Entrepreneurs' Day, she presented strategies for overcoming this disadvantage to the businesswomen in her audience.  The WHU campus served as the venue for this year's Female Entrepreneurs' Day, which attracted about 50 participants and was held as one of the events of the joint "Forum Mittelstand at WHU" series.

“Practice negotiating in advance and be aware of your bargaining range. Use your female strengths in communication and do not even attempt to be the manlier man! Make a point of speaking of the options, not the obstacles. This is a cue you can take from your male colleagues,” Fabiola Gerpott explains. At the event, the ambitious researcher presented a whole host of strategies for success to the participants.

The fact that women tend to underperform in negotiations is due to the way the human brain functions. We need our brain to make fast and efficient decisions in everyday and emergency situations. In order to be quick, our brain relies on shortcuts – biases. These preconceptions often lead to us 'pigeonholing' people. Almost everyone has a preconceived idea of what makes a good negotiator, and a preconceived image of what the female gender role should be. The problem: these notions are conflicting. Moreover, women often perceive their male counterparts as more powerful. Their negotiations for others are better than for themselves.

There are, however, factors that can reduce the discrepancy between men and women in negotiations or even reverse its effect. "The moment we understand the disadvantage we are at, be it in negotiations or in our careers in general, we can come up with ideas that may even turn it into an advantage. This is my most important point," Fabiola Gerpott emphasizes.

To conclude the Female Entrepreneur’s Day, host Professor Christina Günther, who holds the IHK chair for Small to Medium-sized Businesses, invited her guests to the canteen for some mutual exchange and networking. Fabiola Gerpott seized the opportunity to find participants for her new research project: a study on making communication in online meetings more efficient.