Less than 50 years ago, women didn’t need to negotiate. Actually, women they had no right to vote, work when married and they felt under the legal authority of their father or husband. In some European countries, women got equal legal rights as men less than 50 years ago. Before that, role of a woman was clear – she was at home and in charge of housework and children. Man was a breadwinner and woman a housewife.
Rules are not clear anymore and women need to negotiate everything
The legal and social role of women has evolved significantly in past centuries. Women got legal rights to vote, work when married and they don’t fall under the legal authority of father or husband. This brought a lot of freedom, but also many uncertainties. Nowadays, rules are not clear anymore and women need to negotiate everything. Who is the breadwinner and who takes care of the house and children? Are the roles shared? In which percentages? When? Women are still asked if they plan to have kids during job interviews. Some of them are also being asked how they divide such tasks with their partner.
Freedom to people of all gender and non-binary people to do what they want
Religious and social norms dictated roles of people in the society, family and at the workplace for most of human history. It was clear what women ‘should do’ and what they ‘shouldn’t do’. It was clear what men ‘should do’ and what they ‘should not do’. Open society as we have it nowadays, gives much more freedom to people of all gender.
In a similar way, rules about whether you will be offered a promotion or you should ask for one, have changed. People do encourage women to ask and negotiate working conditions, but they are still often labeled as too ambitious and selfish when they do so.
Clash between the old-fashioned way of thinking and freedom of choice
Why this still happens? We are a fast forward moving society and we make workplaces diverse and inclusive. However, 50 years is a very short period of time. Clash between the old-fashioned way of thinking and freedom of choice puts women in a challenging situation. Women need to negotiate both at home and at the workplace what will their role be. Due to centuries-long stereotypes, we tend to stick to traditional roles in an unconscious way. We expect from women who are entering the workforce to be motherly and caring at the workplace. We expect from women at home to be independent and perform tasks individually and be perfect in every sense.
Helping women to effectively negotiate
These are typical manifestation of our unconscious gender bias. Besides helping women to effectively negotiate at the workplace, we need to become more aware of our own biases and break their pattern. Women will always need to negotiate, but it ill be easier if they don’t need to fight unconscious biases as well.