Women Don’t Ask

Sara Laschever, Linda Babcock

Women Don’t Ask



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Good negotiating skills play a crucial role in getting what we want, especially at work, but also in our private lives. The most widely accepted negotiating style, however, is male-oriented, meaning that women often struggle to stand their ground, and sometimes don’t even realise that, in certain situations, there is even any room to negotiate. In Women Don't Ask, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever attempt to explain why this happens, mainly through their analysis of society’s gender expectations, according to which women are supposed to focus on other people’s needs and wants before their own. This book provides a simple but in-depth analysis of all the problems women face when asking for what they want, while also suggesting that their perceived weaknesses can actually be used as negotiating strengths.

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Analysis and key concepts


From an early age, girls learn that they do not have control over their own lives


Women struggle to negotiate, because they settle for less and do not believe that they deserve more


We often unconsciously stereotype all women as being selfless, emotional, and kind


Women know that they can be punished for violating gender expectations


Asking for something makes women anxious, as they do not want to put their relationships at risk


We need to start rethinking our expectations and behaviours, in order to bring out a woman’s unique skills in negotiation




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Understand how women and men negotiate differently. 
  • Appreciate the challenges women face while negotiating, and reflect on possible solutions. 
  • Explore how women’s negotiation styles can actually bring about significant advantages.

Sara Laschever graduated from Princeton University with first class honours, and has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Boston University. She is an internationally recognised authority on the obstacles women face in the workplace, and has held workshops, lectures, and meetings on these issues for years. Laschever was a founding faculty member of Carnegie Mellon's Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women, and her articles have appeared in several magazines, including the New York Times and Vogue, as well as The Guardian newspaper. She currently lives in Concord, Massachusetts.

Linda Babcock is an American academic who is the James M. Walton Professor of Economics and former dean at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. She has carried out years of research on the wage gap between men and women, and her research on the subject has featured in several publications such as American Economic Review, Industrial Relations, and The Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Publishing house:

Princeton Univers. Press