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There is research everywhere that states women aren’t good at negotiating to get what they deserve, especially in the workplace. Women everywhere face many obstacles like a huge pay gap and backlash from their employers when they do negotiate, which makes doing so even more intimidating and event detrimental to their careers.

We’ve written before about the gender disparity in STEM fields, and women in business or corporate settings face similar obstacles. Why is this? Many girls are conditioned from a young age to be passive and submissive in various parts of culture; from pursuing what they like to negotiating with their bosses, women are often marginalized in professional settings. Also, there is a huge double standard when it comes to gender norms in the workplace; when a man negotiates for a pay raise he is seen as assertive and valuable, but when a woman does the same, she is made to feel that this behavior is aggressive or unladylike.

So how do we raise women who know their worth and are more likely to succeed? “I think it requires teaching girls and young women more than just negotiating skills,” says Linda Hoke-Sinex, Ph.D., senior lecturer in the department of Psychology and Brain Sciences at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Hoke-Sinex teaches that context and personal development are also important and there are ways to help women develop in all of these categories.

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How can we empower young girls to advocate for themselves?
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First, reinforce their worth to them, she says. Many teenage girls suffer a loss of self-confidence as they are objectified and sexualized by media and in school, all while undergoing changes in their body. This can make them less sure of themselves. Many young girls are so distracted by the pressure to look or dress a certain way, they lose sight of their genuine interests and fall prey to low self esteem. Don’t criticize girls for their lack of self-confidence but rather encourage them to advocate for themselves and pursue the things they care about.

We also should encourage girls to be assertive. Young girls especially are constantly being bombarded with messages about what it means to be a female in Western society. Rather, girls should be encouraged to step out of their prescribed gender roles in order to grow their minds and feel empowered to do whatever it is they care about most.

Teach girls to take the number of opportunities given to them to practice their negotiation skills. Encourage them to be part of school debate or participate in fundraisers to hone these skills. Teach them it’s okay to ask for things. All of these things combined will create future female leaders who aren’t afraid to negotiate for what they deserve.