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Women Can Take Tips On Negotiating From Pop Culture

Women in many professions have been talking about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and her new book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Commentator Shana Naomi Krochmal has a longstanding interest in one of Sandberg's biggest points: women should bargain harder for better salaries. She says that you can see evidence of it even in TV game shows. She says an example of how to do it right is the drama Scandal on ABC.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Women in many professions have been talking about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and her new book "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead." Commentator Shana Naomi Krochmal has a longstanding interest in one of Sandberg's biggest points that women should bargain harder for better salaries.

SHANA KROCHMAL: One of my earliest memories is of my father teaching me two very important life skills: Don't hit like a girl - the trick is, don't put your thumb inside your fist; and how to shake hands like a man. We practiced both extensively. Still, nobody - not my dad, not my feminist mom - ever taught me how to negotiate to make sure I got paid what I was truly worth.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PRETTY WOMAN)

RICHARD GERE: (as Edward Lewis) Vivian, I have a business proposition for you.

KROCHMAL: The best example I had was from a romantic comedy about a prostitute.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PRETTY WOMAN)

GERE: (as Edward Lewis) Give me a ballpark figure. How much?

JULIA ROBERTS: (as Vivian Ward) Six full nights, days too, 4,000.

GERE: (as Edward Lewis) Six nights at 300 is 1,800.

ROBERTS: (as Vivian Ward) You want days, too.

GERE: (as Edward Lewis) Two thousand.

ROBERTS: (as Vivian Ward) Three thousand.

GERE: (as Edward Lewis) Done.

KROCHMAL: In "Pretty Woman," at least she's asking for more.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PRETTY WOMAN)

GERE: (as Edward Lewis) Vivian, is that a yes?

KROCHMAL: Sheryl Sandberg's book cites numerous studies about women who shoot themselves in the foot when they should be fighting for a better salary. But my favorite scholarship on the subject is actually about the TV show "Jeopardy."

(SOUNDBITE OF GAME SHOW, "JEOPARDY")

ALEX TREBEK: Daily Double.

KROCHMAL: A study by two Swedish economists found that women on "Jeopardy" apply a more conservative wagering strategy when they're playing against men.

It drives me crazy when women contestants who know that Harappa is one of two ancient capitals of India, still lowball their bets on a Daily Double.

(SOUNDBITE OF GAME SHOW, "JEOPARDY")

TREBEK: David and Neil have $10,000 more than you, and we're running out of time.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Ooh, 3,000.

TREBEK: All right, that's a good wager...

KROCHMAL: That's a terrible wager. Between "Jeopardy" and "Pretty Woman," there is no question I learned more from the call girl.

In "Lean In," Sheryl Sandberg devotes a whole chapter to negotiating your salary. But even she has struggled to take her own advice. When Mark Zuckerberg offered her the job as Facebook's COO, she was so excited that she was ready to simply say yes, until her husband stepped in.

Here they are on "60 Minutes."

SHERYL SANDBERG: My husband is like, are you kidding? You can't just take the first offer, I'm like, well, it's a generous offer.

DAVID GOLDBERG: Not because the money mattered so much, but it was the principle. I wanted Mark to really feel he stretched to get Sheryl, because she was worth it.

KROCHMAL: Sandberg went to Harvard Business School, but had to learn Negotiations 101 from her husband. I learned how to shake hands with a firm, confident grip from my dad.

But now we also have a woman on TV every week who we can learn from. Olivia Pope is the fixer on ABC's drama "Scandal."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "SCANDAL")

KERRY WASHINGTON: (Olivia Pope) You have to give me 48 hours before you arrest or charge Sully St. James...

KROCHMAL: Olivia is the toughest shark I've ever seen on TV. And she's a master dealmaker.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "SCANDAL")

WASHINGTON: (Olivia Pope) Just to be clear, that was me threatening you.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You have until morning.

WASHINGTON: (Olivia Pope) Thirty-six hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Twenty-four hours.

WASHINGTON: (Olivia Pope) Sold, pleasure to see you again.

KROCHMAL: Don't just lean in, ask what would Olivia Pope do? And then go for it. Make it a true Daily Double.

CORNISH: Shana Naomi Krochmal is a writer and producer in Los Angeles.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CORNISH: This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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