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To Close the Gender Gap in Wages, We Need to Start Young

Children are natural negotiators. When taking on a tired parent, a six-year-old can adeptly turn five minutes more at the playground to 10 minutes more, the “last” episode into “just one more” and a kiddie-sized ice cream cone into a sundae with chocolate fudge and sprinkles. These negotiations—often exhausting (“Can I stay up for 10 more minutes? Please! Please! Please!”) and frequently hilarious (“I’ll be your best friend if …”)—seem worlds away from the negotiations children will be engaging in when they grow up and start their first jobs. However, recent research suggests that negotiation in childhood may share at least one of the key features of negotiation in adulthood: namely, girls ask for less than boys.

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