Black Women Still Earn Startlingly Less Than Men - And White Women

Typically, discussions of the wage gap are framed as the disparity in pay between men and women. The truth is that it’s far more nuanced, and that within the sexes themselves there are some serious disparities — for example, Black women make significantly fewer pennies on the dollar than not only men but also white women.

The American Association of University Women released new research this year that revealed just how deep the gap goes. Where women in America overall make 78 cents to every dollar a man brings home, Black women earn only 64 cents, comparatively. What’s more: It takes the average Black woman seven months longer to earn what the average white male worker earned in 2013.

Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, and yes, it’s an observance that America really does need. Why do Black women earn so much less? For one thing, they are more likely than any other demographic cohort to work in lower-paying industries, such as service, education, and healthcare support. They also make up the highest percentage of full-time minimum-wage workers — one of the most compelling arguments in favor of increasing minimum wage to a livable sum.

In addition to the fact that Black women hold a disproportionate percentage of lower-paying jobs, they are consistently underrepresented at the top of the pay scale, too. Black women constitute only 1% of all top-paying engineering roles and just 3% of the computing workforce. Even the Black women who make it to the upper reaches of the pay scale struggle with pay discrimination and under-the-radar racism that keeps them from rising through the ranks.

Black women being paid less for their work is everyone’s problem: This is an institutional issue that detracts from our social progress as a nation overall every single day it goes unaddressed. It’s time to acknowledge this unconscionable disparity — and ask ourselves what we’re going to do about it.

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