Men are not naturally better negotiators than women, despite what some previous research has found, according to a new study.
To test their theory that past studies on women's negotiation skills were wrong, researchers replicated a 2008 study often cited to show that women avoid negotiating or ask for lower salaries than they should.
"The results were a near inversion of the previous study," Yellowlees Douglas, one of the study's authors and an associate professor at the University of Florida, said in a statement. "I think it's very telling of a new generation of empowered women."
In the new study from the from the University of Florida, MBA students completed a survey and then were asked to name the amount of money they wanted on a gift card for participating in the study. The researchers found that women, on average, asked for amounts twice as large as those requested by men, and every woman who participated asked for a reward. Of the three highest amounts requested, two came from women.
The researchers discovered that women who had experience with successful negotiation were better negotiators than men. Based on the results, they believe that women who avoid negotiation or negotiate poorly are likely influenced by a lack of experience, not by anything inherent in their gender. [7 Salary Negotiation Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them )]
"The women who negotiated well were likely recalling instances when they negotiated high-paying jobs or competitive bids," Douglas said.
Because men are more likely to have held high-paying jobs, they are also more likely to have previous successful negotiations to draw on, the researchers said, which could explain why previous studies found women to be less proficient at negotiating.
Samantha Miller, a co-author of the study and a University of Florida undergraduate business student, wanted to pursue the research after listening to a lecture on the commonly held belief that women are bad at negotiating. She said that didn't mesh with her experiences.
"I always ask what I feel I'm deserving of," Miller said. "I had an idea that women in my generation were similar."
Douglas said that, to help both women and men become better negotiators, college career services should offer students the chance to participate in mock negotiations and interviews. She said this opportunity would better prepare them for negotiations they're likely to encounter in real-world scenarios.
The study was published recently in the International Journal of Business Administration.