Study: Women of Color Set Lower Salary Preferences than White Men and Women, Men of Color

Women, specifically those of color, are still in the ring fighting for equal pay.

Tech job search platform Otta recently released new data that found women of color set lower minimum salary requirements compared to white men, white women, and men of color.

According to Forbes, data collected from 10,000 users of the job search engine in December 2022 found that women of color set minimum salaries 40% lower than white men.

The data presented a dip from data in December 2021 that reported women of color setting requested salaries 26% below the salary requirements set by white men.

“The gap increased dramatically in the last 12 months,”  Otta’s cofounder and CEO Sam Franklin said.

“The market conditions are changing in opposite directions, making it harder for people to know what pay is fair. Inflation is putting upward pressure on salaries, but tech layoffs are putting downward pressure on salaries. Many people look to their network and peer groups to ask what’s fair, but that information is becoming outdated. I expect this amplifies biases,” Franklin added.

Diversity expert and psychology professor at California State University, Negin Toosi, described the data as “”disheartening.”

“This is really about who has status in this society, whose work is valued more, and who gets to ask for a larger salary without having to deal with backlash. It’s not about something inherent to women or people of color, but how they are treated,” Toosi said.

“I believe that for the most part, people tend to use numbers that reflect the previous experiences they’ve had in negotiations when they’ve asked for a fair amount. If they’ve been penalized and told they were greedy, getting above themselves, too assertive, etc., they revise downward. If they’ve been paid fairly by an organization that practices transparency, they tend to value their skills more,” she added.

Research has shown that women of color fear receiving backlash, causing them to steer clear of assertive negotiating.

“Black women are allowed to be assertive in the ‘sassy’ sense, but as soon as they are assertive in the promotion and career advancement sense, other people try to push them down,” Toosi said.