This week, in what can only be described as exquisite and rare good luck, we discussed gender differences in negotiation in the same week that Tina Fey made a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live. First, for some background, students in my workshop had the Casino case to negotiate out of class in which a female computer programmer has a conversation with her boss about problems at the workplace and with the quality of her work. This case was written in order to use Difficult Conversations as the debrief template and it works terrifically.
I also have students do class presentations based on the readings and additional readings from The Negotiator’s Fieldbook so that they can dig further into some of the issues. The students presenting to class used Tina Fey’s hilarious clip from Saturday Night Live this past week to raise the issue of perceived gender differences in negotiation and how women might be perceived if they are assertive. As Tina Fey argues after identifying both herself and Amy Poehler as bitches, “bitches get things done.” So deal with it.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if being perceived as a bitch becomes cool instead of horrid? (This is not just a personal interest!) Then women would feel, hopefully, more free to be as assertive as men. We already know from numerous studies that women ask for less in negotiations, don’t perceive some interactions as negotiations at all, and can face a backlash when they do ask. Could Saturday Night Live change this? Given how much this clip is already in the lexicon of students and the blogosphere, we can only hope that younger men and women will, as Tina Fey puts it, “get with the program.”