On July 23, 2022, Kate Turetsky, assistant professor of psychology, published new research in the Journal of Social Issues. Titled “Explaining the gender gap in negotiation performance: Social network ties outweigh internal barriers,” the study seeks to uncover the reasons behind gender disparities in negotiation performance.
To assess the factors that might explain why men tend to outperform women in negotiations, the researchers asked a group of MBA executives to report their apprehension about negotiating, stereotype threat in negotiations, and class social networks before randomly pairing participants and instructing them to complete a series of one-on-one negotiations based on real-world scenarios. The aim was to compare the degree to which internal and relational mechanisms affect the gender disparities we see in negotiation performance.
Though the authors found significant gender differences in stereotype threat, stress mindset, and social network centrality, only network centrality factors, such as number and strength of ties, served to mediate the relationship between gender and negotiation performance. This indicates that one’s position in informal social networks may influence his or her ability to effectively negotiate, particularly in a shared social environment, like the workplace. Previous efforts to explain the gender gap in negotiation performance have mostly centered on internal psychological mechanisms, but this breakthrough research suggests that relational explanations, such as disparities in social networks, merit further attention.