Ms. MORE THAN A MAGAZINE MOVEMENT
By: Michelle Holder
April 7, 2020
The Real Implications of Black Women’s Salary “Double Gap”
During prosperous times, most workers have had the experience of sitting across from someone, being offered a position or promotion, and then being asked their desired salary. For women in general, and African American women in particular, answering this question can be like rolling loaded dice.
To begin with, Black women are already among the lowest paid demographic groups—along with Latinas and Native American women—so using prior salaries to gauge a fair request already puts us at a disadvantage. Trying to negotiate as aggressively as white male job applicants is also fraught with risk—according to research by Morela Hernandez et. al. (2019), when Black workers attempt to assertively bargain for fair compensation, they are perceived as aggressive, and may either lose employment offers or be offered a lower salary for violating employer’s expectations.
Of course, there are other reasons why Black women, on average, earn less than white men. Black women tend to be more crowded in lower-wage occupations than white men. And though it has narrowed over time, whites still complete college at a higher rate than African Americans.
But even after taking differences like these into account, economists such as William Darity Jr. have shown that a wage differential between Blacks and whites—in favor of whites—still exists, one that cannot be ascribed to differences in individual characteristics or skills. Feminist economists have shown similar findings for women vis-à-vis men.
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