Women who believe that their gender and professional identities are compatible are more likely to be successful in negotiations and other professional pursuits than women who are unable to ‘integrate’ their multiple identities.
Why are some women negotiators better than others? The answer may lie in whether or not women believe that their gender and professional identities are compatible or not. Women who believe their gender and professional roles are compatible — women who are in the social science terminology “high on gender/professional identity integration,” or GPII, are much more successful in competitive negotiation situations. Identity integration also leads to better economic performance, without incurring a backlash. One recent study showed that women high on identity integration were able to negotiate higher salaries for themselves without incurring social backlash. GPII also reduces an individual’s concern with a social backlash — that is, their fears of harming relationships.
The success of high GPII women can be tied to the fact that they displayed behaviours associated with both the female gender (warmth) and their professional identity (dominance). Controlled experiments in which identity integration was manipulated revealed that high identity integration sparks women to attempt to combine warmth with dominance; low identity integration reduces their desire to do so. This combination is important as dominance has been shown to be more important to professional success, while warmth is more important to women’s social success— because it can offset the social damage that can be caused by dominance.
In order to be successful, women must manage their multiple social identities. Past research demonstrated, for example, that female engineers who believed in the compatibility of their different identities performed better than those who didn’t. The reason, according to the latest research, is that identity integration inspires women to use elements from both of their identities in the professional behaviour and in setting their goals. In negotiation, this successful blend of gender- and professional-inspired behaviour is summarized in the phrase ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’. Engaging in negotiations with an arsenal of both dominance and warmth has proven to be a successful strategy.
Ideas for Leaders is a free-to-access site. If you enjoy our content and find it valuable, please consider subscribing to our Developing Leaders Quarterly publication, this presents academic, business and consultant perspectives on leadership issues in a beautifully produced, small volume delivered to your desk four times a year.
For the less than the price of a coffee a week you can read over 650 summaries of research that cost universities over $1 billion to produce.
Use our Ideas to:
Speak to us on how else you can leverage this content to benefit your organization. email@example.com