Christine L. Exley
Harvard Business School
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|December 2016||Knowing When to Ask: The Cost of Leaning In|
with Muriel Niederle, Lise Vesterlund: w22961
Gender differences in the propensity to negotiate are often used to explain the gender wage gap, popularizing the push for women to “lean-in.” We use a laboratory experiment to examine the effect of leaning-in. Despite men and women achieving similar and positive returns when they must negotiate, we find that women avoid negotiations more often than men. While this suggests that women would benefit from leaning-in, a direct test of the counterfactual proves otherwise. Women appear to positively select into negotiations and to know when to ask. By contrast, we find no significant evidence of a positive selection for men.