Donald Trump has made it no secret that his approach to any negotiation is to win at all costs. Aggressive positioning and zero-sum strategy are central to this. But has his style really made it harder for negotiating women?
Short answer: yes.
There are two major ways this manifests.
First, in specific policy changes. Under Trump, equal pay regulations have been scrapped, funding for birth control has been cut, and only male chief executives have been appointed by Trump to the Women in the Workplace panel.
The seemingly most powerful leader in the democratic world has promoted a consistent position against women’s issues. On these topics specifically, American women now have to push harder than before when negotiating their pay, the rights of their bodies, and fair treatment in their places of work.
Second, in general influence effects. Men in positions of power have two prominent narratives weighing on their decision making. Either, women are as inferior in the workplace as the President makes them out to be, so why listen to their perspectives as seriously as their male counterparts? Or, women are in a superior position of power given reactive women’s rights groups, so why work with women when they may accuse you of inappropriate behaviour?
Trump’s discourse has reduced the narrative of women’s roles in any negotiation setting (at home, in society, or in the workplace) to extreme ends of the power spectrum: too weak or too powerful.
An understanding of feminism as nothing more than equality between human beings, where policy over gender matters more in a negotiation, is a perspective sadly drowned out in the misogynistic vitriol of the firgurehead of the ‘free world’.
A leadership change won’t fix it all, but it seems it will certainly be a move in the right direction for supporting women at the negotiation table!