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Women at the Bargaining Table: Pitfalls and Prospects


Catherine H. Tinsley is an associate professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Her e-mail address is

Sandra I. Cheldelin is the Vernon M. and Minni I. Lynch Professor at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. Her e-mail address is

Andrea Kupfer Schneider is a professor of law at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her e-mail address is

Emily T. Amanatullah is an assistant professor at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. Her e-mail address is


Research evidence across a number of disciplines and fields has shown that women can encounter both social and financial backlash when they behave assertively, for example, by asking for resources at the bargaining table. But this backlash appears to be most evident when a gender stereotype that prescribes communal, nurturing behavior by women is activated. In situations in which this female stereotype is suppressed, backlash against assertive female behavior is attenuated. We review several contexts in which stereotypic expectations of females are more dormant or where assertive behavior by females can be seen as normative. We conclude with prescriptions from this research that suggest how women might attenuate backlash at the bargaining table and with ideas about how to teach these issues of gender and backlash to student populations in order to make students, both male and female, more aware of their own inclination to backlash and how to rectify such inequities from both sides of the bargaining table.