Why Are Women Not At the Negotiation Table?


Deborah Kolb

Co-Director of the Program on Negotiations in the Workplace, Program on Negotiation, Harvard University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003


People have a way of thinking about gender as differences between men and women, and its very hard to move away from that. When you say its about gender they think either you're just going to talk about women, or your going to talk in your negotiations about the differences between men and women. What I always like to say is when we talk about the differences between men and women in negotiation, were doing two things, either women are the same as men, or they're different from men; we never talk about men. It's a model deficiency, so women are deficient in some way and we have to help them get better. I think that a way to think about gender is not to just look at the way men and women would negotiate differently. The fact is that the women aren't at the table, and so how can they be participants? The issues that one would want to work on from a gender perspective, as far as I am concerned, is how women mobilize to get to the table so that they can be participants.