Knowledge Center

Women of Color in the United States

Women of Color Will Be the Majority of All Women in the United States by 20601

Percent of Total Women in US Population (2016)2 

Percent of Total Women in US Population (2060)3

White (not Hispanic or Latina) 61.2% 44.3%
Hispanic or Latina 17.4% 27.0%
Black or African American 13.7% 15.2%
Asian 5.8% 9.5%


Latinas and Asian Women Will Make Up a Larger Percentage of the US Labor Force

Between 20162026 the projected percentage increase in the labor force of women by race or ethnicity:4

  • 33.2%: Increase of Hispanic women in the labor force.

  • 28.1%: Increase of Asian women in the labor force.

  • 10.8%: Increase of Black women in the labor force.

  • -5.0%: Increase of white women in the labor force.


The College Graduation Rate Continues to Rise for Most Women of Color5 

Of total bachelor's degrees earned by US citizen women in 2015–2016, the percentage of those earned by women of color:6

  • Hispanic women: 13.4%.
  • Black women: 11.8% (this percentage has decreased since its high of 12.3% in 2011-12).
  • Asian/Pacific Islander women: 7.1%.


Of total business degrees earned by women in 2015–2016, the percentage of those earned by women of color:7

  • Black women: 12.4%.
  • Hispanic women: 12.5%.
  • Asian/Pacific Islander women: 7.8%.

Women of Color Have a Greater Wage Gap

In 2017:8

  • Black women working full-time earned 61 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men earned.

  • Latinas working full-time earned only 53 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men earned.  

  • Asian women working full-time earned 85 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men earned.

Women of Color Represent Almost Half of the Low-Wage Workforce9

Among the low-wage workforce in 2016:10

  • Black women: 18%.

  • Latinas: 24%.

  • Asian, Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander women:  7%.

Women of Color Remain Underrepresented in Leadership Positions

In 2015 women of color made up 5.0% of executive/senior-level officials and managers in the S&P 500.11 

In 2017, Black and Hispanic women made up a smaller percentage of total women employed in management, business, and financial operations occupations than white or Asian women.12

  • Women of color among the total US employees in 2015:
    • Hispanic or Latinas: 10.5%. 
    • Black women: 11.4 %.
    •  Asian women: 16.3%.
    • White women: 16.3%.

Black Women Aim High, But Emotional Tax13 Can be a Barrier to Success

Black employees experience a heightened awareness of their difference in the workplace which manifests itself in disruption of sleep patterns, reduction of their sense of “psychological safety,” and diminishment of their ability to contribute fully at work.14

  • Despite this feeling of exclusion black women report wanting to:

  • Remain in the same organization (88%).

  • Be an influential leader (87%).

  • Work toward a high-ranking position (81%).


Additional Resources

Full list of Catalyst Quick Takes.

Alliance for Board Diversity/Deloitte, Missing Pieces Report: The 2016 Board Diversity Census of Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards (2017).

Catalyst, Flip the Script: Race & Ethnicity in the Workplace (May 7, 2018). 

Dnika J. Travis and Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon, Day-to-day Experiences Of Emotional Tax Among Women And Men Of Color In The Workplace (Catalyst 2018). 

Black Women Connect, "Black Women Connect."

DEFINITION: The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) require federal agencies to use a minimum of five race categories: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Note that Hispanic is defined as an ethnic heritage and people who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be any race.15

NOTE: Hispanic or Latino refers to persons of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.  In accordance with OMB and NCES standards, Brazilians are not be categorized as Hispanic (but may identify as Latino). Therefore for accuracy, Quick Takes follows the race/ethnicity label used by each government agency to ensure we represent their specific data collection.16

How to cite this product: Catalyst, Quick Take: Women of Color in the United States (November 7, 2018).