Why the Gender Wage Gap is Even Worse for African American Women

The debate on the wage gap is not a secret. Everyone’s heard the whole “a woman makes 77 cents to every dollar the man makes” issue.  However, when the pay system is further analysed and dissected, one will find that this isn’t true for every woman, or every man. It is no surprise that white women have significantly more privilege than black woman, and black men less than white. For both men and women of color, the “77 cents” deal is unfortunately not the case. According to AAUW, for every dollar a man makes, the black woman makes 63 cents. That’s 37 percent less than a non-hispanic white man. Think about it this way: a black woman has to work for an extra eight months to be paid what said white man was paid at the end of December. So what exactly is the cause of this?

Well, statistically speaking, black women are more likely to be hired in a lower paying job. This includes nursing, education, and service. African American women are less likely to enter into tech fields, for example. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, black women in the full time minimum wage category is the highest percentage than any other racial group. With this overrepresentation of African American women in low paying jobs, they only make up 1 percent of high paying engineering workforce, and 3 percent of computing.

Let’s talk about education, for example. Of course education is extremely vital, but in most cases the wage gap widens the higher level of education you go in some fields. As a rule of thumb, one’s earnings should increase as the years of education increases, for both men and women. However, while education is sometimes helpful for adding to earnings, it’s not as effective for decreasing the gender pay gap. At every step of academic achievement, women’s average earnings are less than men’s.

But why should you care, you ask? For one, diversity is important for productivity, and more influential workspaces. Simply speaking, the more diverse, the more solutions in a professional setting. Workplace productivity aside, equal pay is just one of the bases of standard gender equality. Giving the opportunity for every person to provide for their family and for themselves is just morally sound. A fair and equal salary could be the difference between poverty and substantial support for a family.

Lule Kihenjo

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