News Article

Women Set Lower Minimum Salary Requirements Than Men, According To Job Search Platform

Posted 9th November 2022 • Written by Kim Elsesser on •

New data from tech job search platform Otta reveals that women job candidates provide lower minimum salary requirements than men. According to Otta cofounder and CEO Sam Franklin, the discrepancy can’t be explained by fewer women seeking the highest-paying technical positions. Instead, the differences emerged across the board. For every role and every level of experience, women are setting their minimum salary on Otta 7-20% lower than men.

Otta currently has 500,000 U.S.-based users, and 60% are women. The website asks job seekers to enter their work preferences, including minimum salary requirements, when they start their job search. In the United States, women, on average, entered minimum salaries that were a whopping 17% lower than those entered by men.

The most significant gender differences emerged for women searching for non-senior software engineering, data and product roles—these women set their minimum salary requirements 19-20% less than men. The situation was slightly better for marketing and human resources positions, but women in these professions still set their minimums 7-10% lower than men.

“I suspect the biggest reason why women enter lower minimum salaries is that they aren't fully aware of what they're worth,” Franklin wrote via email.

Researchers have found that this tendency for women to underestimate their value is nothing new and is not specific to the technology industry. In one telling study, male and female college students were asked to evaluate the application materials of incoming first-year students. At the end of the experiment, the participants were told to pay themselves what they thought was fair, given their work. Men paid themselves 63% more than women. When asked to evaluate their performance on the task, there were no gender differences, so the pay discrepancy did not reflect how the participants believed they performed. Instead, the researchers attribute the pay disparity to gender differences in entitlement.

However, this effect disappears when the women know what others are getting paid. In the same study, the gender difference in self-pay vanished when the experimenters let the participants see a bogus log of self-pay taken by previous male and female study participants. In other words, when women knew the pay range, they requested fair pay.

Franklin believes the same situation applies to women in the job market, and he is a proponent of including salary ranges in job listings. “How can we expect women to negotiate if they don't know what's possible? This is why I believe transparent information on fair salaries is such a powerful way to start breaking the persistent gender pay gap,” he says.

“Men are already being paid higher than women for many roles. So there is an argument that they already know their worth and what salary they can command, which in turn means they negotiate for roles at the higher end of the salary band. It's a vicious cycle,” Franklin adds.

Franklin has some suggestions for job seekers trying to gain a better understanding of their worth. First, he suggests asking about the salary range for the position during the first interview. He also recommends talking about salary to as many peers as possible, both inside and outside your company. Searching for salary benchmarks on sites like Otta, Glassdoor and Blind can also help provide valuable data.

More states are moving to require employers to provide candidates with clear salary information, which should help all job seekers. Currently, seven states require job listings to provide salary ranges, but some require employers to provide the information to prospective employees only if requested. Seventeen states have laws around pay transparency that allow employees to discuss pay freely without fear of retaliation.

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