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Clarkson University Women’s History Month Event Highlights Strategies and Techniques in Negotiation

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Thirty-five Clarkson undergraduate students recently attended a dinner program on salary and workplace negotiations.

The session was in celebration of Women’s History month and served as a follow-up program to last year’s "Negotiations U." training and contest funded by the American Association of University Women. womens-history

"The catalyst for this year’s event was Negotiations U. participants and student leaders from 2008 who felt strongly about the issues surrounding the pay gap," said co-organizer Cathy Clark, director of Student Support Services. "They wanted to continue educating their peers about negotiations techniques and strategies."

Junior biology major Story L. Elliott of Boiceville, N.Y., summarized research findings on gender and negotiation, including women’s lower propensity to negotiate. She also reported on her experience as a presenter and attendee at the 2008 American Association of University Women National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in Washington, D.C.

"The event taught me that it’s alright to ask for more, you may not always get it, but it’s still important to try," said Kelly A. Dixon, a junior mechanical engineering major from Blossvale, N.Y. "It’s also necessary to keep an open mind, to negotiate for the benefit of both parties instead of just your own, and realize that no doesn’t always mean the end of the negotiation."

Co-organizer Mary E. Graham, associate professor in the School of Business, highlighted an eight percent difference in pay per year between women and men with the same qualifications working in the same occupations and industries, that potentially could be reduced with effective negotiations.

A student panel shared negotiations techniques and tools they have employed successfully in the past year. Their advice spanned a multitude of topics, including how to stand one’s ground with a senior colleague, the research and preparation necessary prior to negotiations, leveraging multiple job offers, and communicating clearly and strategically.

The panel members were Cara A. Claflin, a senior global supply chain management major from Cohoes, N.Y.; Benjamin C. DeMuth, senior, global supply chain management, Dansville, N.Y.; Nicole S. Etzel, junior interdisciplinary engineering and management, Bloomfield, N.Y.; Lisa A. Gorczyca, senior business and technology management, Manlius, N.Y.; Jennifer N. Maxwell, sophomore, computer science, Houston, Texas; and Lisa M. Nkonge, senior, interdisciplinary engineering and management, Greensboro, N.C.

The program also included small group discussion and a keynote address by Jennifer M. deCoste, associate vice president for Institutional Diversity Initiatives, who shared interesting examples of negotiations in her work career, including an early career misstep and the process by which she negotiated terms of employment with Clarkson.

deCoste emphasized that negotiations involve building cooperative relationships to assist both sides in getting what they want, and she encouraged the students to view the answer of "no" in negotiations settings as a "speed bump" rather than the end of discussions.

"There will always be speed bumps in the road," she said, "but you can handle them by creatively using an attitude that anticipates negotiation, opening communication among all parties, flexibly planning your approach, evaluating all viewpoints, and closing appropriately."

Paula L. Wilmot, director of Co-Curricular Education and Programming was a session co-organizer.

The Women’s History Month event was funded by the deans of the School of Business, the Coulter School of Engineering, and the School of Arts and Sciences.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Thirty-five Clarkson undergraduate students recently attended a dinner program on salary and workplace negotiations. Left to right: Lisa Gorczyca (speaking), Cara Claflin, Ben DeMuth, Jennifer Maxwell, Nicole Etzel, and Lisa Nkonge.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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