OGDEN -- Male and female job candidates can walk into salary negotiations with the same qualifications and walk out with vastly different salaries.
Although cultural gender bias may be part of the reason, the larger issue is differences between how men and women close the deal:
More than 60 percent of women accept the first offer. More than 90 percent of men ask for more money.
So says Michael J. Stevens, Weber State University's chairman of business administration.
"Most men negotiate with a counter offer," Stevens said. "Women accept the first number they hear. Employers expect you to negotiate, except at entry level. Invariably, they start with a low-ball offer."
Stevens spoke this week at a WSU seminar, "Salary Negotiations for Women," and as part of a panel with three female executives who hire for their local companies.
Stevens said women who accept a low starting pay, then follow the norm of requesting fewer raises than their male counterparts, will lose an average of $550,000 to $600,00 over their working life.
Stevens told of a hiring manager who routinely offered executives a starting salary of $45,000. Women almost always accepted the offer. Men almost always countered with a figure of $65,000, and most got about $60,000.
But for women, there's a cruel cultural catch: "Men who negotiate tend to be liked and respected," Stevens said. "Women tend to be seen as aggressive and pushy."
The answer, at least until we live in a perfect world, is for each gender to play to traditional strengths and try to adopt the strengths of the other gender, Stevens said.
He suggests a five-step negotiation process:
* Create interest and receptivity. Talk about your strengths and potential contributions to the workplace.
Advantage: women. Stevens said women traditionally have a better sense of how to create interest, bond with people and to know when listeners are interested.
* Explore the interviewer's position. Anticipate the problems a person in the interviewer's position must have, and make it clear how you are the solution to the problems.
Advantage: women. Women in our culture have long been expected to anticipate and solve the problems of others, so in terms of traditional cultural roles, this one goes to the women.
Stevens said this step is very important, and most men skip it.
* Add your views. Talk about how the company's and supervisor's needs line up with the experience, accomplishments and skill set you have to offer.
Advantage: men. In out society, men are expected to sell themselves, so are more typically more comfortable doing so.
"And leave emotions out of it," said panel member Anne Hagopian, Wayfair human resource manger. "You stand a better chance if you are logical and assertive."
"Presentation is everything," added panel member DeLonie Call, Top 10 Reviews chief people officer (her actual title). "A salesman would not arrive at a meeting without a pitch, and you are selling yourself. Once they want you, you have so much more bargaining power."
* Negotiate a resolution. This step is about getting a salary offer and seeing if you can get the number higher.
"You need to understand the market where you want to work," said panel member Celeste Busch, Williams International vice president of supply chain management. "Decide how much you are worth, then arrive poised and professional. Homework is the most important thing you can do for yourself. That, and be prepared to walk away."
Stevens warned against over eagerness, suggesting they ask to sleep on an offer, even it if seems ideal.
* Action plan. This is working out the final details.
Advantage: men. When savvy men have pushed the salary as high as they can, they ask for extras, such as an extra week of vacation, flexibility in hours or the location of work or a signing bonus, Stevens said.
Stevens gave one final suggestion to his audience.
"ABC," he said. "Always be Columbus. Always be exploring, scanning the horizon, to see what is out there that might help you advance your career."