Carnegie Mellon University

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April 01, 2011

Workshop Aims To Create Female Negotiators of All Ages

By Jeffrey Inscho

When it comes to negotiating, women often hesitate. Linda Babcock is working to change that.

Babcock, the James M. Walton Professor of Economics at Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College, established the Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equality in Society, or PROGRESS, five years ago. From 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 11 at Hamburg Hall, the program will have workshops for women and girls between the ages of 7 and 12.

The event, “Speak Up: Getting What You Want Through the Power of Negotiation,” will be an energetic and engaging day for women and girls to become inspired, and to learn and discover the power of speaking up for what they want and deserve.

“With this event, ‘Speak Up,’ we hope to bring in a diverse mix of women and girls to share important tips and techniques on effective negotiation,”
said Ayana Ledford, executive director of PROGRESS.

Attendees will be split up into two sections — women and girls — and will receive customized training according to their age group.

In the past two decades, a barrage of books, magazines and advertisements for executive education have offered instruction for women to improve their negotiation skills. In all of this, however, one point has been almost universally overlooked: All the negotiation advice in the world will be useless if someone never gets to the bargaining table in the first place.

The women’s workshop, led by Babcock, will present evidence showing that women are much less likely than men to initiate negotiations and how much women lose by not negotiating.

It also will discuss the importance of teaching girls to negotiate and how to teach daughters these important skills that will last a lifetime.

Interventions need to begin early, Ledford said. She said one of the factors holding women back from negotiating are the messages they receive as girls about how to get what they want.

“These messages come from the TV shows they watch, the movies they see, and often the behavior that is modeled for them by teachers, peers and other adults,” Ledford said.

The girls’ interactive workshop, which is led by trained community volunteers, will focus on teaching girls to speak up for themselves and make positive choices throughout their lives.

While this is the first “Speak Up” event produced by PROGRESS, Ledford said she hopes the momentum will continue.

“Our goal is to make ‘Speak Up’ an annual event,” she said. “It’s so inspiring to see such a diverse mix of women — moms, grandmothers, grad students, undergrads and girls — in the same room with the same purpose.”

Scholarships for girls are generously provided by Patricia Cluss of the University of Pittsburgh; Sitko, Rodella and Bruno, LLC; and The Women and Girls Foundation of Western Pennsylvania. For more information and to register visit

What: “Speak Up! Getting What You Want Through the Power of Negotiation”    
When: 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, May 11
Where: Hamburg Hall
Register Online: