Knowing When to Ask: The Cost of Leaning In
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.
We thank HBS, the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford University, as well as the NSF and SIEPR for support. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Christine L. Exley & Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2020. "Knowing When to Ask: The Cost of Leaning In," Journal of Political Economy, vol 128(3), pages 816-854.