Black Women’s Equal Pay Day Highlights Disparities and Widening Wealth Gap

Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, marking the number of days a Black woman must work into the year to earn the same salary her white male counterparts have earned, according to reports. It takes more than 200 days into the calendar year for Black women to catch up, and for every dollar a white man earns, Black women earn 62 cents. (By contrast, white women caught up this year by April 9.)

A telling report released today by the Institute for Women’s Policy Reseasrch (IWPR) found that Black women will not take home the same earnings as white men until 2130.

“What that means in real terms is that my daughter and my daughter’s daughter will not see pay equity in their lifetime if we do nothing to accelerate closing the pay gap,” Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), told “Good Morning America.”

Also, though Black women are earning more college degrees than their male counterparts, Black women with a college degree earn about 70% the hourly wages of their white male counterparts with similar education.

Research has shown that the inequity in pay for black women has not seen much improvement in decades, with numbers reflecting that between 1968 and 2018, the gap narrowed just 19 cents. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) further reports that the wage gap costs Black women more than $23,000 a year and “will typically cost a Black woman nearly $1 million over a lifetime of work and contributes to the racial wealth gap.”  The organization found that if a Black woman and her white male counterpart both begin work at 20, it would take her until age 85 to make the same amount of money that he has by age 60. Thus, she would have to work more than 6 years past her average life expectancy to catch up financially. 

Related: Women Call for Equal Pay in Sports

Several factors play a pivotal role in contributing to the problem of unequal pay for Black women, according to experts. In addition to facing employment challenges due to COVID-19-related cuts and demands, Black women face the double issue of Intersecting injustices related to sexism and racism which perpetuate racial and gender wealth gaps. According to the AAUW, the median white household had 13 times the wealth of the median Black household in 2013, and the NLWC further reports that today, Black women are also overrepresented in industries like restaurants, retail, and hotels — many in jobs considered front-line or essential — and they are paid less than their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.

Related: Research Roundup: What’s Keeping Women from the C-Suite?

“We owe Black women so much more. Especially right now in the middle of this pandemic, the wage gap has robbed them of their ability to weather this storm,” Jasmine Tucker, the NWLC’s director of research, told USA Today. “They don’t have the financial cushion, they don’t have any savings because we haven’t been paying them what we owe them. And that’s just straight earnings that doesn’t even account for if they were able to put any money away, if they were able to buy a house, the equity, the wealth that they could have built for themselves over that time.”


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