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<xTITLE>Instead of Eliminating Negotiation, How About Eliminating Backlash?</xTITLE>

Instead of Eliminating Negotiation, How About Eliminating Backlash?

by Andrea Schneider
May 2015


Andrea  Schneider

I am grateful for Michael’s push in his blog post last week to think more about job negotiation, particularly after Reddit announced that they will no longer negotiate starting salaries (in order to avoid gender bias). The Program on Negotiation followed up Ellen Pao’s gambit noting three problems with her approach: (1) women aren’t the problem (it’s the backlash and societal expectations that are the problem)l; (2) negotiation isn’t a competition; and (3) forbidding negotiations could backfire (people will go elsewhere for their jobs.)

I have focused mostly on problem number one–the perceptions versus the reality of how women negotiate. In multiple studies of both women lawyers negotiating on their clients behalf and of women law students negotiating their own salary, there are not gender differences. Let me say that again. I have not found salary differences between male and female law graduates–the differences are between those who negotiate and those who don’t! And, when looking at women lawyers, there are few stylistic differences as well. To the extent that there is a problem, it is the backlash that occurs from others when women negotiate on their own behalf–this likeability v. competence choice. The story at Nazareth College is one such example (and I’ve written with others on that debacle here.)

Instead of eliminating negotiation, let’s eliminate the backlash. My co-authors and I have outlined some specific strategies for women to take in order to minimize this backlash (article here) and I’d like for those of us with whom women negotiate to also do our part and celebrate rather than punish this assertiveness (which, by the way, we all want these women to have on behalf of their clients!)

I think Michael’s example from the Chronicle of Higher Education is dealing with problem number (2) from above–that we view negotiation as a win-lose when, in fact, it is the opportunity to continue to build the long-term relationship with the place that is hiring you. The story from the Chronicle is a great example:

Officials at Princeton University wanted to recruit Albert Einstein to join their Institute for Advanced Study. To begin the negotiation process, Princeton wrote to Einstein in Austria to ask how much he would need to accept the job offer. Einstein wrote back: “$3,000, unless you think I could get by on less.”

Did Princeton match his request or try to talk him down to $2,800? No, they offered $15,000 – which I suspect was a pretty handsome sum back in the 1930’s. Officials there knew he would figure out the salary structure soon enough, so rather than create anger and resentment, they decided to pay him competitively to create both trust and commitment. Imagine beginning the hiring process by offering a fair and competitive deal!

So my additional advice is that, until the backlash is eliminated, we also need our institutions to be fair. Salaries need to be reviewed regularly to double-check that we are treating all faculty fairly based on accomplishment and not just personal assertiveness. A hard lesson for me as well–my first raise at Marquette was from my previous dean, Howard Eisenberg, who told me that he gave me a raise after a male colleague (hired a year later) had in fact negotiated his salary higher than me…and now Howard was raising my salary to be at least as high as his. I always appreciated Howard’s strong sense of fairness and the difficult lesson that I learned about not negotiating on my own behalf. I have been sure to do so ever since. Of course, my current dean (the male colleague hired a year later) might regret that sometimes!


Andrea joined the faculty of Marquette Law School in 1996 where she teaches ADR, Negotiation, International Law, International Conflict Resolution and Art Law. She also helps to run the nationally-ranked ADR program at Marquette Law School. Prior to joining Marquette, Professor Schneider was Visiting Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University as well as an Associate at Arent Fox in Washington, D.C. where she specialized in international corporate transactions. Professor Schneider has also served as a lecturer at Stanford Law School and a Teaching Fellow at Harvard Law School.

Professor Schneider is a co-author of the just published Dispute Resolution: Beyond the Adversarial Model (Aspen, 2004 with Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Lela Love & Jean Sternlight) as well as a co-author of two additional books on negotiation with Roger Fisher, Beyond Machiavelli: Tools for Coping with Conflict and Coping with International Conflict. She is also the author of Creating the Musée d'Orsay: The Politics of Culture in France. Professor Schneider has published numerous articles on negotiation and international law including articles in the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Michigan Journal of International Law, University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Economic Law and the Negotiation Journal.

In 2000, she was given an Outstanding Achievement Award by the American College of Civil Trial Mediators for her work as the national coordinator for the ABA Law Student Representation in Mediation Competition. Professor Schneider regularly conducts negotiation and mediation trainings for law firms, bar associations, court systems and companies around the country. Past clients include Oracle, MCI, the Smithsonian Institution, and the American Association of ADR Attorneys. She also currently serves at the co-chair of the ABA Task Force on Mediator Credentialing.

Professor Schneider received her A.B. cum laude from the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs and Public Policy at Princeton University and her J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School. She also received a Diploma from the Academy of European Law in Florence, Italy.

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