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HKS Authors

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


We propose a conceptual framework for expanding the scope of future research on the role of gender in career negotiations. Extant research on gender in career negotiations emphasizes women’s disadvantages relative to men in compensation negotiations. We present an inductive study of what and how women negotiate for career advancement and the attainment of leadership positions in organizations, drawing on data from diverse samples of negotiation accounts by senior executive, mid-level, and early career professionals from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and six world regions. Integrating insights from six studies, we propose a more comprehensive perspective on what men and women negotiate for career advancement, including their role development and work–family conflicts, as well as compensation. We also identify three distinct negotiating strategies—asking, bending, and shaping—that vary in the extent to which the negotiator conforms to, deviates from, or attempts to redefine organizational norms. Our analyses suggest that the choice of negotiating strategy has implications for men’s and women’s career progression, particularly for women’s navigation of nontraditional career paths and men’s and women’s leadership claiming. We suggest new directions for research on the role of negotiation in career advancement and in promoting and mitigating gender inequality in organizations.


Bowles, Hannah Riley, Bobbi Thomason, and Julia B. Bear. "Reconceptualizing What and How Women Negotiate for Career Advancement." Academy of Management Journal 62.6 (December 2019): 1645-1671.