What Does Race Have to Do with a Woman’s Salary? A Lot.April 26, 2013
Race/ethnicity has always created a dividing line in the United States, and it’s no different with the pay gap. Each year, AAUW’s The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap addresses this question, and, of course, the answer is that the pay gap affects all women. But it doesn’t affect all women equally. The 2013 edition of The Simple Truth presents the facts about the pay gap between women and men, showing how race and ethnicity as well as gender affect earnings.
In 2012, Asian American and white women had higher weekly earnings than African American and Hispanic or Latina women, and the pattern was similar for men in these groups. The gender pay gap was smallest within the African American and Hispanic/Latina full-time workforce, but compared with white men (the largest group in the workforce), black and Hispanic/Latina women fare poorly. Hispanic or Latina women are paid 88 percent of what Hispanic or Latino men are paid but only 59 percent of what white men are paid. The gap is smallest between African American women and men: African American women are paid 90 percent of what African American men are paid but just 68 percent of what white men are paid.
So what causes the pay gap to affect women of color more than white women?
Education is a part of the reason that African American and Hispanic/Latina women have lower wages. Lower graduation rates for high school and college mean that many black and Hispanic/Latina young people enter the workforce with one hand tied behind their backs. Education improves earnings for everyone, but African American and Hispanic women tend to earn less at every education level.
The median weekly earnings of white women were higher than those of African American and Hispanic or Latina women across all levels of education. And while educational background may explain part of the difference in earnings between racial and ethnic groups, it isn’t the whole story. Another possible explanation is overt and implicit discrimination. Not all of the race/ethnicity-based pay gap among women is explainable, and more research is needed to better understand and combat the problem.
The gender pay gap touches every state — every community — in the United States. Whether you live in the heart of the city or in a small, rural town, there are actions you can take to help narrow the pay gap, especially for women of color.
First, cultivate educational opportunities for women, especially to enter higher paying fields. Increased levels of education usually result in increased earnings, and every penny counts, even if the wage gap isn’t completely closed yet. Second, contact your local elected officials to let them know they should take a stand for fair pay!
Visit fightforfairpay.org to learn more about the gender pay gap, how it affects you, and what you can do to take action for equal pay.
This post is part of the YWCA blog carnival on April 26, 2013 — we invite you to join the dialogue! Post your comment below, share your story, and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #StandAgainstRacism.
This post is part of the MomsRising blog carnival in honor of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights March on Washington on August 28, 2013. This carnival is a time to reflect on the work ahead of us to fulfill Dr. King’s vision for social justice and racial healing.
This original research report explains the pay gap in the United States, how it affects women of all ages, races, and education levels, and what you can do to close it.