Bias of Gender Differences in Negotiation

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Now that society is fast-paced, people tend to choose to do their jobs as a priority and ignore the importance of communication. Sometimes a very small thing can become a big contradiction, if there’s a lack of communication. One of the important methods about communication is negotiation. Negotiation is a method by which people settle differences. It is a process by which compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding argument and dispute.

Negotiation can take a wide variety of forms.

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The most commonly used is in the business. In business, negotiation skills are important in both informal day-to-day interactions and formal transactions such as negotiating conditions of sale, lease, service delivery, and other legal contracts. Because these contracts involve too many stakeholders, most of them want to maximum their own benefits. Sometimes they would keep quarrelling and the project cannot begin or continue. Thus, a good negotiation is necessary. A good negotiation can help you to build better relationships, deliver lasting, quality solutions – rather than poor short-term solutions that do not satisfy the needs of either party and avoid future problems and conflicts

Negotiation can also be used in personal life situations, like person to person, or family. It plays an important role in how to better one’s relationship with others. Conflict has never benefited anyone, instead it adds to one’s tensions and anxiety. It is better to discuss things and reach to an alternative benefitting all. Issues must not be dragged unnecessarily and efforts must be made to come to a conclusion involving the interests of all. There is no point in being adamant and rigid. One should strive hard to negotiate with each other and consider the needs, interests, and expectations of all. Thus, negotiation is essential everywhere. We all must try our best to adopt negotiation skills to avoid misunderstandings and lead a peaceful and a stress free life. Although there are many strategies in how to successfully negotiate, some tactics include avoiding competitive negotiations, listening and understanding what the other person involved in the negotiation is wanting out of it, prepare and do research for what you want from the negotiation, and to try and seek creative solutions.


Through extensive research in understanding the differences between how men and women negotiate, we found a key factor in studies conducted. Ethics is the main contributor to how genders go about negotiations. Overwhelming evidence has been presented to better understand this idea, but it is important to first understand terminology in ethics and negotiation studies. Research shows an association between moral identity and ethicality. Moral identity is defined as “conceiving of self in terms of moral traits that indicate responsiveness to others needs and interests (Aquino & Reed, 2002).” Ethicality is distinguishing between right and wrong in the terms of a profession. Individuals that lack moral identity and ethicality possess what is known as moral disengagement, which allows them to violate ethics without feeling guilty. Negotiation tactics differ due to styles of ethical reasoning. Two styles of ethical reasoning are ethic of care and ethic of justice. Ethic of care considers others needs, while ethic of justice focuses on individual rights. While these ethics play a large role in the research, the differences in how men and women negotiate are due to moral identity, moral disengagement, and financial incentives.

When it comes to moral identity, we see the idea of “affect” come into play. Affect is defined as “the feelings, moods, or emotional states that individuals experience in circumstances or situations (Park, Sims, & Motowidlo, 1986).” Research brings to light the impact of “affect” in the difference in negotiations. Women are found to value moral traits more firmly than men do. In the context of negotiation, this means that they are less likely to use unethical procedures. In a course of 33 studies of 19,000 individuals, they found a 66% probability that a random chosen women will have stronger moral identity than a randomly chosen man (McGraw & Wong, 1992). They found a correlation of .19 to .22 regarding the value that women place on moral traits in comparison to men (Kish & Gephart, 2010). Despite that women negotiate with a high sense of moral identity, this doesn’t always work in their favor. Moral disengagement, while unethical, gives men an unfair advantage in negotiating.

“Holding a stronger moral identity prevents moral disengagement (McFerran, Acquino, & Duffy, 2010).” Moral disengagement lacks a consideration for underlying consequences. Moral identity works hand in hand with moral disengagement. Due to women valuing moral identity more than men, they in turn aren’t likely to morally disengage. The willingness of men to morally disengage leads to unethical negotiating behavior. “Unethical tactics can help negotiators to claim value (O’Connor & Carnevale, 1997).” While this allows men a monetary gain in employment, “women have negotiating advantage over men when capital and subjective value are important (Kennedy & Kray, 2013).” Men are able to gain incentive in the negotiating process, but women actually value financial incentives more than men.

Specific circumstances impact how women negotiate more than men. For example, research shows that women are more apt to be deceptive if performance based financial incentives are involved. While women have an ethical advantage over men, when financial incentives are involved women alter their negotiating style. The differing styles in negotiating between men and women “contribute to differences in pay, but can also build relational capital and subjective value (Curhan, Elfenbein, & Kilduff, 2007).” These negotiating styles lead to stereotypes that exist today. “Favorable stereotypes have been used to exclude women from high-status roles associated with toughness or aggressiveness (Eagly, 1995).” By understanding how women and men negotiate through moral identity, moral disengagement, and financial incentives, we can implement recommendations to improve the negotiations from both parties in a fair and equal manner.


It is clear that men and women negotiate in different ways and have different goals when negotiating. However, both genders have advantages in negotiating different objectives. Men tend to have an advantage negotiating financial incentives and women have an advantage negotiating with ethics. This can make a person feel mistreated because of their gender and lead to unintended sexism in a company. It is important for companies to realize the different ways men and women negotiate and try to close the gender bias in order to prevent these issues. One recommendation companies can implement to close the gender bias is to have both a male and female representative present in negotiations.

Having both a male and female representative present will close the bias by being informed how their gender negotiates. Both the representatives can collaborate and better understand how the person is negotiating and what their overall goal is. This will lessen the amount of moral disengagement present by men when negotiating incentives and women when negotiating financial incentives. This will also allow both genders to negotiate ethically and be able to state clearly what their objectives are. The management team will be able to understand what the goals are clearly and be unbiased when making a decision. A limitation to having both male and female representatives could be that since men tend to be more vocal while making negotiations, it could lead to the women becoming more silent while just the male representative and employee negotiate.

It is also not enough to just have both genders be present in negotiations. Due to the fact that both genders can negotiate unethically and be morally disengaged, they may be able to trick both genders in the negotiation process or use this to their advantage in getting their objective over the other gender. Along with having both male and female representatives present, they should also be trained to realize negotiation tactics and how different genders negotiate. A system should be implemented to properly train both representatives to understand the moral disengagement used by both genders and their objectives while negotiating. This will allow the representatives to properly assess the goal and qualifications of the negotiator as well as make an informed decision regarding their objective. Properly training management or human resource representatives in different ways of negotiation is vital in closing the gender bias gap and ensuring ethical negotiation practices. Not only will this benefit both the employee negotiating, but it will also benefit the company as well. This will help companies prevent gender bias and accidental gender discrimination by understanding the negotiation tactics of males and females and being able to fairly assess their goals and qualifications.

The first step to this proposed training system is to make sure companies and their human resource department understand the differences in the ways men and women negotiate. As stated in our research, men tend to morally disengage more when negotiating leaving them an unfair advantage when negotiating incentives. However, women tend to value financial incentives more and will morally disengage when negotiating them. This is important for every company to realize and properly inform their management and human resource staff. The second step in the proposed training system is that representatives from companies that are going to be negotiating should be trained in proper negotiation tactics. Being able to properly assess if a person deserves the objective they are negotiating and being able to tell if someone is morally disengaged is important in negotiations. It is important to know how the different genders negotiate but it is also important to know how to deal with the different negotiation methods. Having both male and female representatives that know the differences in negotiation styles between men and women and also know how to properly deal with these differences will be extremely valuable to companies by closing the gender gap and preventing gender discrimination.

Not only is it important to train these representatives, but it is important to continually train them as negotiation tactics evolve. In the future there may be different ways men and women negotiate and companies need to keep up with this information and continuously train their representatives to avoid gender bias. Not only can people negotiate differently depending on their gender, but the overall way everyone negotiates can change as well. Negotiations can shift to different channels of communication and representatives will need to know how to handle that shift and how to understand the objectives people are trying to negotiate while not being in the channel they are used to. This training system paired with both male and female representatives leaves a more ethical way to negotiate and allows companies to more accurately determine goals of the employees and fairly assess if employees deserve them. It will help stop gender bias when negotiating in companies and be completely ethical when making these decisions.

Along with training the human resources department to differentiate how men and women negotiate, the company should make all benefits and incentives equal between men and women. By making these opportunities equal, it will allow the human resources department to distinguish what their employees are trying to negotiate, and make fair decisions when presented from the opposite gender. This will eliminate any bias in negotiating between men and women, and give them equal rights in the workplace. A limitation to making all benefits and incentives equal for men and women is that the men and women involved may not feel as if the other gender is as deserving of the benefit or incentive as they are. It is up to human resources to listen to negotiations from each gender fairly and to make the best decision from there.

Another recommendation for management or human resource representatives is to clearly state what is expected from each employee. That is, whenever employees are presented with something worth negotiating, they will be given all the details of what is expected before they can do so. By doing so, it will make it harder for men and women to negotiate differently based off of their gender. If expectations are the same for both male and female, it will eliminate the gender gap and make it less competitive to negotiate what you want based off of if you are a man or a woman. Also, the goals of the organization should be obvious to all employees and should not differ based on gender. This will lead to better outcomes for employees as well as the company. The employees that are in the position to make decisions should also be clear about what they are basing their decision on and what they want from it when they are presented with a negotiation. By being clear in these situations, men and women will know what they are supposed to do and how they should negotiate. Although men and women have different negotiation tactics, making expectations known within the company will hopefully decrease the decision bias presented in the negotiation.

There are many companies that excel in training other businesses on how to improve their company. One company thats main goal is to teach other companies how to deal with change and how to make decisions is TiER1 Performance. What TiER1 Performance does is create training programs and solutions for other companies that are going through a major change. This could mean a management change, strategy change, or even a human resources change. By hiring a company like TiER1 Performance, management and human resources can learn an effective way to deal with how men and women negotiate differently and what they should base their decisions on. TiER1 Performance has helped improve many major companies, such as Oakley, Fifth Third Bank, Cintas, Macy’s, McDonalds, and many other companies. Hiring a company like this one would be an excellent way to see how men and women negotiate differently and what they could do to lead to fair outcomes. Also, hiring a consulting company would be helpful to managers and human resource representatives to learn ways on how gender affects negotiation and come up with strategies on how to deal with these different strategies.

Since men and women negotiate differently, it is important that businesses use these recommendations to fairly make decisions. It is known that the way different genders negotiate lead to different negotiated outcomes, which can be seen as unfair and unethical. By using training programs, male and female human resources representatives, making benefits and incentives equal, clearly stating what employee expectations are, and hiring businesses such as TiER1 Performance, companies can efficiently tackle negotiation problems and make decisions in the fairest way possible.


After our research, it is clear how important negotiating is in the business world. It is the method of communication used for searching for an agreed solution between two parties, whether that be a sale, salary, business to business, or even in the family unit. Not only does the skill of negotiating have many applications in the business world and everyday life, it is important to understand how many different variables affect how negotiations are made.

One of the biggest factors to consider when negotiating is ethics. Ethics plays the key role of being the motivation behind the negotiation tactics used. Ethics is not the only variable that affects negotiation. It is clear that a person’s gender also plays a key role in motives for negotiation, and how ethical people are in a setting where negotiation is present. It is found that women are much more ethically motivated, and men are more financially motivated. Therefore, men are more likely to be unethical when the matter being negotiated is financial. With men and women having different traits when negotiating, it gives them different advantages over each other in certain situations. For example, women are more morally driven when negotiating and men are more financially motivated and more willing to negotiate unethically to see financial gain. It is clear that if people are not educated in negotiation, these different factors can cause problems when negotiating if one does not know how recognize and approach these different problems.

After our research, we recommended that is important to educate employees on the different gender bias that can occur when negotiating. Also, when negotiating we believe it is important to have both men and women present to have both methods of negotiation present to avoid the gender bias as much as possible. Along with that solution, we have also suggested to get professional training from companies like TiER1 Performance to help other companies refine and better their human resources and management departments to limit the amount bias and problems when negotiating. With these solutions, overtime people in the workplace will become more educated on negotiation and its problems, so they can recognize and approach problems in an organized manner when they arise. This will help the company in the long run by, having their business professionals trained to negotiate in the most efficient way possible to avoid any bias that may occur, if the proper training was not implemented. Also having a company that is known for training their employees to negotiate in the most ethical way possible could be a big draw in for prospective employees. Knowing that a company would go above and beyond to further your ethics and overall knowledge of negotiation skills, could be the certain skill an employee is looking to attain and could attract them to the company. It is clear that negotiation is a big part of communication in the professional business world, and it helps all parties involved when negotiations are done ethically and in an educated fashion.


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Bias of Gender Differences in Negotiation. (2021, May 14). Retrieved from