Celebrating Women in Computing – Part 3 – Negotiation

The final technical session I saw was with Jerie Shaw from the University of Ottawa, put on by the NSERC/Pratt & Whitney Chair for Women in Science and Engineering.  This was a really great session, which both reinforced my own experiences, and opened my eyes to some of the challenges of negotiation (or really, of communication in general) that women face.

A lot of the standard advice was repetition of some negotiation workshops I’ve seen before – determining the best acceptable alternative, looking for other ways to create value, etc.  There were also some points that were new to me, like the ‘dual concerns’ model that described positions like competing, accommodating and collaborating.

While I am probably the first person to cringe when someone brings up a topic along the lines of ‘Men are from Mars / Women are from Venus,’ I have to admit that I identified with almost all of the characteristics of ‘Female Typical Communication’ :

  • indirect when giving orders
  • maintain equality in relationships
  • interrupt less
  • talk less about personal achievements
  • change statements to questions
  • more likely to use disclaimers, hesitation

It isn’t effective for women to simply emulate ‘Typical Male Communication’ – instead there are ways for women to convey confidence through competence and communality.  All in all, a really interesting session and I will definitely be putting some of the methods and tips into practice during my own negotiations.

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