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Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,378 ratings  ·  197 reviews

When Linda Babcock asked why so many male graduate students were teaching their own courses and most female students were assigned as assistants, her dean said: "More men ask. The women just don't ask." It turns out that whether they want higher salaries or more help at home, women often find it hard to ask. Sometimes they don't know that change is possible--they don't

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2003)
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Melanie Well, this book is less about strategies and more about background on why women don't negotiate as much as men and why their negotiations aren't as…moreWell, this book is less about strategies and more about background on why women don't negotiate as much as men and why their negotiations aren't as successful.

There are some mentions of studies that find women and minorities fare worse than white men in (whatever the specific focus of the study), but no, there is not really a specific emphasis on women of color. I read the 2003 edition, so I'm not sure if that topic gets more attention in the 207 edition.(less)
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Brenda Pike
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My Negotiation and Conflict Resolution class has been really rewarding so far, but by far the best part of it has been discovering the book Women Dont Ask by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. Its been a bit of a revelation for me, making me realize that the world is far more negotiable than I think. However, statistically, women are less likely to ask for what we want, and when we do ask, we tend to get less than what men do. Some reasons for this:

* Were more anxious about conflict.
* We tend to
Sep 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this book.

For women, this book shows empirically some of the effects of gender socialization, how that socialization creates pay inequality, and what you can do about it.

For men, this book is a great window into some of the cultural dynamics that may be invisible to you, that women have to deal with every day. Also, if you are male but feel like you have trouble being assertive, you should also read it and sub yourself in for the women that Babcock studied, because you've
May 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The best part of the book was the Introduction, which does a great job of succinctly explaining how females in our generation and culture were raised to be passive and non-competitive, which works against them in their future careers by not teaching them how to negotiate for what they want. Whether that be salary, responsibilities, or titles, we are never encouraged to ask for what we've earned or what we deserve. It blew my mind and explained a lot! However, once you move into the main content ...more
Sep 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who would like to improve their negotiation skills
Shelves: women
Really interesting read on women & power in negotiating/the workplace.

As a woman who isn't afraid to ask for things that I feel are rightly deserved (a promotion for working hard, a pay raise because I'm making less than the going rate for whatever it is that I'm doing), I was kind of shocked that so many of the example women in this book were so passive. But then again, I've been there - I think it's hard work learning how to ask for what you need, and negotiate for things as a woman,
Abby Deane
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me by the only female partner at my firm. I was skeptical because as a woman who doesnt fall into the tentative, indirect lady category, sometimes conversations about gender bore me. However, this book was extremely helpful! I would recommend and even read again to reinforce some concepts. It is written in a research paper style, so just be prepared for that kind of structure.

The most helpful part was realizing the amount of things in life that are negotiable which
Feb 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-books
A difficult book to read. I tend to think of myself as assertive and confident - then I noticed all the patterns I have courtesy of this book. Of course I want people to like me and I don't want them to think that I'm pushy or controlling. The end result is, I don't get what I want and then I'm unsatisfied (at best) or resentful and angry (at worst). I have found in my life that if I just open my mouth and ask for something, even if the answer is no, the world doesn't end and people don't walk ...more
Kal ★ Reader Voracious
"The most striking finding...was that the students who had negotiated (most of them men) were able to increase their starting salaries by 7.4 percent on average, or $4,053--almost exactly the difference between the men's and women's average starting pay. This suggests that the salary differences between men and women might have been eliminated if the woman had negotiated their offers."
This book is a must-read for everyone. Even though this was published eleven years ago, the research still
Mark Muckerman
As business books go, it was okay, and in the final analysis, I'm glad I read it. It did give me some broader perspectives on women in the workplace, and a new and DATA SUPPORTED viewpoint on behavioral traits in men and women. If you are a business leader who has, expects to have, or wants to have women on your team and to support them as effectively as you can, it begins with understanding. Women Don't Ask provides information, information supports understanding, and that can't help but make ...more
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: career
This book has certainly been making me think a hell of a lot, it's made me more observant of the subtle -- or non-subtle I had totally missed until now because they seem so "normal" -- ways in which girls and boys are treated and the expectations that are put upon them from early on, and how people (of both genders) react to things differently depending on the gender of the person who said or did it.

I really enjoyed all the studies described all along the book, as well as the insights the book
Cyndie Courtney
Feb 09, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-book
I found the book to not be very helpful at suggesting negotiation tips. They mostly spent the majority of the book telling me how despite my best efforts I still wouldn't negotiate as well as a man, and then one chapter telling me that I still had hope if I read several other books. Important topic but more reportive than constructive.

The more I think about this book the more frustrated and depressed it makes me, especially as I approach negotiations myself. I wouldn't recommend reading it if
Mar 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Angela by: Rainey
Shelves: sd-fem-bookclub
Women Don't Ask starts off strong, making a powerful case that women's large wage discrepancies can be at least partly explained by their failure to negotiate better salaries and benefits for themselves, failure to ask for what they want, and consistent undervaluation of themselves. These differences don't arise out of nowhere, we learn; from a young age girls are discouraged from asserting their own desires and instructed to value relationships over promoting themselves. Unfortunately for ...more
Overall, I was disappointed with this book. A lot of the attitude was so anti-male I had a hard time relating to the material. Particularly the last chapter on "domestic" negotiations, which basically implies all men sleep around and infect women with STDs so women need to "negotiate" using condoms. From an academic perspective, it was well-researched and explored a good deal of landmark studies cited related to the topic of negotiation, and that's why it gets the 2 stars. This book is best for ...more
Apr 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm at the beginning of this book but so far I'm finding it very exciting. The basic idea is that women generally don't negotiate in situations in which they can. For example, a large percentage of women don't negotiate their starting salaries, and starting salaries are often on the low end because the employer expects that people will negotiate. Something like 60% of men do negotiate their starting salary. Researchers have calculated that over the course of a career negotiating your starting ...more
Dec 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Elucidates what I'm sure many women already knew, expected, or suspected with statistics and case studies that were often disheartening but important. Definitely eye-opening, illuminationg our society and profoundly different norms for men vs. women where negotiation is concerned. Made me wish I had read it earlier or had access to this information far sooner, both in my career and in my personal life. Not only should this be read by all working women, the men who work with them and ...more
Bella Swann
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. It gave a lot of information on the reasons why women often don't negotiate, why women often negotiate better for the needs of others than for themselves, and why men see more of life as negotiable. This book looked at social, cultural, and biological factors as well as unconscious biases that both men and women hold towards assertive women who exercise leadership. This book also gave practical suggestions on how women should negotiate in different situations. I will ...more
Oct 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book that should probably be read by all women as they walk out the door of college in search of a "first job," but it's not too late to add this to the reading list for my peer group out there on job 5 or 10. I attended a conference a few years ago that brought this book to my attention and I completely credit it with giving me the confidence to ask for (and receive) better pay, better hours, and a much more enjoyable job situation. You can't get what you want if you don't ...more
Relatable, infuriating, and inspiring. This is a very readable book that helped illuminate some of the societal teachings and reinforcements that have informed my view of and approach to negotiation. Despite having learned tactics before, this book helped explain the mindsets that have been holding me back from effectively wielding some of those tactics. A helpful, quick read.
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
excellent book for everyone to read, especially, of course women and those who work with women. makes you think twice about assuming what is negotiable. saw a presentation by the co-author Sara Laschever and she was awesome. follow up book: Ask For It provides more practical advice on negotiating.
Jun 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a great book for women in business. This book stresses that women often shy away from negotiation for fear of straining work relationships. This book offers tips on how to negotiate and not be afraid to ask for the resources you need to better do your job.
Samantha Hines
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must-read. Not only does it offer sound analysis and useful advice to help move women forward, it also explains how traditional negotiating techniques by women can be a strength. Way better than Lean In.
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book on communication for women. Good advice on why asking and direct communication will be most effective.
A must read for any working girl - an eye opener on how women's tendency to wait for their just reward instead of asking for it can lead to unintended inequality.
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Innumerous examples of why women should negotiate and explanations of the psychological differences and the reasons behind not negotiating for women. I enjoyed reading and may feel guilty if I dont negotiate the next time round.... ...more
Schafer Bomstein
This book had a significant impact on my professional life. Long before the Lean In days, I learned how to ask for what I want. ...more
Jun 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Women have been guided by a society where they have been accustomed to wait for opportunities such as salary raises or more flexible hours. In contrast, men have generally lived in a non-restrictive world, where it can be argued that more is available to them. This causes them to feel more confident about asking for raises or negotiating flexible hours and doing it with a higher 'target' in mind than women. Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide introduces the societal barriers ...more
There are a lot of cool anecdotes of behavioral experiments showing incredible differences between men and women's attitudes toward negotiation, and even more paraphrased interviews from women detailing their experiences and feelings--these were interesting too, but it got tiresome when I had already accepted their arguments and just wanted to get to the negotiation tips part, which didn't come until nearly three-quarters of the way in.

It basically boils down to:
1. Know that you can negotiate
May 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-enough
The studies presented in this book are eye opening, and I consider myself an informed feminist. I referenced a few when my fellow engineering graduate students were getting job offers, even my male friends needed some support negotiating.

Nevertheless, the organization of this book is awful. There are anecdotes mixed in with studies, and topics of studies and anecdotes are intermingled. At pg 54, I nearly sprang out of my chair grasping back to pg 42 to compare two studies. The two studies
Amy Rhoda  Brown
Women miss opportunities for advancement, increased remuneration, more flexible hours, and many other benefits because they don't negotiate; they don't ask. This readable and thoroughly-research book explains why, what we give up when we choose not to negotiate, and how we can get past our various aversions to negotiation and ask for what we are entitled to. It also discusses the ways that women's negotiating style is more suited to modern organizations, and how women are often more likely to ...more
Amanda Linehan
Jun 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was great. It actually gives concrete tools and knowledge that you can use. I've read lots of good books about womens pay disparity and the need for women to promote themselves better at work, but many books over-rely on research and case studies to prove their points, yet don't go as far as to offer action steps.

The longer I'm in the professional world the more I see the need for this kind of book, and I'd highly recommend this one to any woman in management OR at the start of their
I took a really long time to read this book because I wanted to give it my focus when I was reading it. I would read a couple chapters, wait a couple months and read another more. I wanted to really absorb the messaging because I believe the issues they discuss are a huge part of what feminism should needs to focusing on: teaching women self confidence, teaching women to stand up for themselves, teaching women they are and deserve the same as men.

This book is not a book on how to negotiate. If
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Linda C. Babcock is the James Mellon Walton Professor of Economics at the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has also served as director of the Ph.D. Program and Interim Dean at the Heinz School.

Dr. Babcock grew up in Altadena, California, and attended public schools there before earning her bachelor's degree in

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“even when women can imagine changes that might increase their productivity at work, their happiness at home, or their overall contentment with their lives, their suppressed sense of entitlement creates real barriers to their asking. Because they’re not dissatisfied with what they have and not sure they deserve more, women often settle for less.” 1 likes
“for women. These results suggest that men are asking for things they want and initiating negotiations much more” 0 likes
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