Black women and the pay gap aauw

According to Census data, on average, black women were paid 63 percent of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2016. That means it takes the typical black woman 19 months to be paid what the average white man takes home in 12 months. That’s even worse than the national earnings ratio for all women, 80 percent, as reported in AAUW’s The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. This gap persists despite the fact that black women participate in the workforce at much higher rates than most other women.

Black women and girls live at the intersection of sexism and racism. While sexism and racism are distinct forms of discrimination that manifest differently, their effects are compounded when a person experiences both at the same time. Intersectional discrimination perpetuates the racial and gender wealth gaps, limits black women’s access to educational opportunities, and negatively impacts their career advancement.


The wealth gap can help us to understand why black women’s earnings are so far behind those of both white men and white women. In 2013 the median white household had 13 times the wealth (“wealth” refers to total assets minus debts) of the median black household — specifically, the median white household had about $134,000 to the median black household’s $11,000.

The wealth gap black families experience can be traced back to such historic injustices as slavery, segregation, redlining (the practice of differentiating areas of a city or town by race, often leading to the denial of necessary goods and services to people who live in those areas), unequal access to government programs like welfare and the GI Bill, and ongoing institutionalized and systematic discrimination. This disparity in wealth spans generations and perpetuates unequal pay and diminished opportunities, decreasing the amount of resources black families can devote to education and career advancement. Occupational segregation

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the percentage of black women who are full-time minimum-wage workers is higher than that of any other racial group. To make matters worse, there’s an even bigger pay gap in the service industry, where women make less per week than women working full-time across all occupations. That’s why a livable minimum wage is crucial to all women (who make up two-thirds of tipped workers), and especially black women. In addition to being overrepresented at the low-paying end of the spectrum, black women are underrepresented at the top. Black women make up a scant 1 percent of the high-paying engineering workforce and 3 percent of computing. And these, unfortunately, are the fields where the gender pay gap is the smallest. Among the few black women who do break into these careers, discriminatory pay and promotion practices drive many out. Education

While education is often thought of as a great equalizer, it does not shield women of color from the pay gap or the wealth gap. Recent research by Demos found that the median white adult who dropped out of high school has 70 percent more wealth than the median black adult with some college education. That means relying on education alone to close the pay gap alone will not work for women, especially black women, who trail behind in terms of wealth no matter how closely they follow societal guidelines of how to earn more and be successful.