Confidence, Empower Yourself

Women Don’t Ask for What They Want


Every single time you don’t ask for what you want, there is a consequence or penalty involved. The consequences may not be immediately visible, but they’ll creep up on you. Next time you want to buy something and realize you can’t afford it because you didn’t negotiate your salary, there’s your penalty.

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with work and start to stress out, but can’t quit, there’s your penalty.  Next time you say “yes” to a commitment when you should have said “no, I can’t,” there’s your penalty.

Researcher Sara Laschever and her team conducted a study to measure the recognition of opportunities to negotiate and the willingness to see negotiation as necessary for success. Rather than analysing the frequency of negotiation, they analysed recognition of opportunity to negotiate.

This is what they asked people:

How much do you agree with the following statements on a scale of 1-7. (1 = not at all; 7 = all the time)

  • I think a person has to ask for what they want rather than wait for it.
  • There are many things available to people, if only people ask for them.
  • Many interactions I have during the day can be opportunities to improve my situation.

Low-scorers are those who don’t ask for what they want, they don’t negotiate because they don’t see the benefit of it.

High-scorers are those who see every situation as an opportunity for growth & negotiation. They see negotiation as a tool that is fluid or adaptable to their needs. These people looked for ways to improve themselves & their careers.

Here’s the kicker!  Women were 45% (!!) MORE likely than men to be low-scorers. Meaning that women are way LESS LIKELY to negotiate or even to SEE the benefit of negotiating. They don’t see any advantage to asking for what they want.

Another interesting aspect of the study revealed that a 10% higher score translated into 30% more attempts at negotiating. Can you imagine the benefit of 30% more negotiation?? That’s a crazy difference.

Men ask more often for what they want. Men see opportunities for growth everywhere. Men are less likely to be scared off when hearing “no” from someone during a negotiation. This is what the research tells us.

If you’re more willing to step up and ask for what you want, you’re more likely to get it. That’s the bottom line. And women right now, are less likely to speak up, voice their concerns, and negotiate for themselves.


Babcock, Linda and Sara Laschever. (2007). Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Negotiation and Positive Strategies for Change. Bantam Books, New York: NY.