HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Co-Director, Center for Public Leadership
Co-Director, Women and Public Policy Program
Roy E. Larsen Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management


A fundamental form of human interaction, negotiation is essential to the management of relationships, the coordination of paid and household labor, the distribution of resources, and the creation of economic value. Understanding the effects of gender on negotiation gives us important insights into how micro-level interactions contribute to larger social phenomena, such as gender gaps in pay and authority. Recent research on gender in negotiation has shown us how gender stereotypes constrain women from negotiating access to resources and opportunities through lowered performance expectations and gendered behavioral constraints. However, this widening research stream is also beginning to provide hints for how individuals and organizations can overcome these limitations to women’s negotiation potential. In this chapter, I provide a brief history of psychological research on gender in negotiation, starting with the study of gender-stereotypic personality attributions and transitioning to a more sophisticated analysis of the effects of gender stereotypes on negotiation behaviors and performance. I review contemporary research on gender in negotiation using two interrelated frameworks. The first outlines the ways in which gender stereotypes influence negotiation, the second outlines situational factors that help predict when gender effects are likely to emerge in negotiation. These include ambiguity, which facilitates the emergence of gender effects, and gender triggers, which influence the salience and relevance of gender within the negotiating context. Finally, I highlight practical implications of research on gender in negotiation and point to future research directions that could transform insights about barriers to women’s negotiation performance into positive levers for change.


Bowles, Hannah Riley. "Psychological Perspectives on Gender in Negotiation." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP12-046, October 2012.