The topics of race and gender can be dangerous, and often toxic, to breach. They are both politically charged, and people have very strong feelings when discussing them in almost any context. With a rash of policing issues, racist, and xenophobic points and counterpoints in our political elections, and by simply looking at available data, many people are finding that institutional racism or misogyny may be impacting them more than they ever thought.
And that’s making people mad — often justifiably so.
Of course, phenomena like the gender gap aren’t quite as simple as they seem. While there are differences in the earnings of men and women, for example, it’s not as simple as employers paying men more for no other reason than the fact that they’re men. And the same goes for people of differing races. Instead, there are some underlying issues that lead to these differences that are tougher to explain and understand.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t misogynistic or racist employers out there. But when you take everything into account, explaining how and why pay gaps exist takes a bit more nuance, and can’t be explained in the confines of a Tweet or two.
One way in which these gaps do persist, though, is through salary negotiations. It’s been surmised (and often disputed) that men are tougher negotiators than women, which is one of the reasons they tend to earn more on average. They simply fight for more pay from the get-go. Why is that? Why aren’t women willing to negotiate harder? There’s no easy way to explain it, but a new study from Fractl reveals some interesting things.
As far as the gender gap goes, Fractl’s study comes to one simple reason that many women don’t fight for higher pay from the get-go: “Women are less comfortable asking for raises than men.” Though that seems a bit simplistic, this is one of the major findings from Fractl’s work.
But that’s not all.
“We examined the intersection between gender and race/ethnicity when requesting a higher salary. We surveyed a diverse group of 2,000 Americans about raise negotiations. Although we found gender to be a larger factor than race/ethnicity, there were multiplicative effects when considering gender and race/ethnicity together,” the study says.
And when we dig into it a little bit, it appears that a lot of people who are stuck with lower pay than they feel they deserve have never asked for more money. It seems like a simple request, but as discussed, there are deeply ingrained factors that may be preventing some people from doing so. Here, you can see the overall percentages of people who have never tried to ask for more money. The takeaway? Women and minorities don’t ask for raises — though they may have some perfectly reasonable reasons as to why.
How race fits into the picture
When race comes into the picture, things get even more interesting. Though most people probably wouldn’t think that race impacts the way they behave or interact with others, these numbers show otherwise. For example, Fractl’s team writes that “55.1 percent of people said they would feel more comfortable negotiating a raise with someone who is the same race/ethnicity as them. African-Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans were the most likely to say they would feel more comfortable negotiating a raise with someone who is the same race/ethnicity as them. White Americans were the most likely to say that race/ethnicity wouldn’t make a difference.”
Here’s the visual:
Here’s the real issue: People who believe they’ve actually been passed over for a raise or promotion because of their gender or race. According to Fractl’s team, “39.4 percent of women believe they haven’t been given a raise because of gender or race/ethnicity. White women were the most likely to believe they’ve been forsaken a raise due to gender. Nonwhite women were more likely to believe that race/ethnicity or a combination of factors was at play.”
If there’s one thing that’s clear from this study, it’s that gender and race still play an outsized role in career advancement. That may just be a perception, as there’s really no way to prove anything one way or the other in most cases. Either way, it’s obvious there’s still lots of work to do to foster more inclusive work environments.
See the entire Fractl study here.