The Pay Gap Is Even Worse for Black Women, and That’s Everyone’s Problem

A bill showing a drawing of an African American woman and 6.4 for the value

Our video on #thenew10 illustrates how the gender pay gap affects women of color. Watch it now »

July 21, 2015

Would you like to work seven extra months for free just to earn the same paycheck as your male co-workers? We didn’t think so. Unfortunately, if you’re a black woman in the United States, that’s a likely reality.

Black women were paid 63 percent of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2014. That means it takes the typical black woman nearly seven extra months to be paid what the average white man took home back on December 31. That’s even worse than the national pay gap for all women, 79 percent, as reported in AAUW’s The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. Think about how that adds up in the course of a career, and we’re talking about losing a daunting chunk of change over a lifetime.

Industry Matters

Why is this happening? Looking at industry helps us understand some of the gap — but not all of it. Black women are more likely than women nationally to work in the lowest-paying occupations (like service, health care support, and education) and less likely to work in the higher-paying engineering and tech fields or managerial positions.

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 black women are paid on average just 60 percent of what male servers are paid. That’s why a livable minimum wage is crucial to all women (who make up two-thirds of tipped workers), and especially black women.

On top of 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 are the fields where the gender pay gap is the smallest! Among the few who do break into these careers, discriminatory pay and promotion practices and the hostile environment drive many out.

Simple Truth Fall 2015 Figure 4

What about education, you ask? True, education matters when it comes to increasing any group’s wages. But that doesn’t mean the gap goes away — in fact, it even widens with higher levels of education in some fields. That means that there is still a portion of the pay gap unexplained by education or chosen field. Process of elimination (and anecdotal evidence) tells us that racial discrimination is a likely culprit.

This inequity stretches to more visible fields, too, like business (Ursula Burns is still the only black female Fortune 500 CEO) and Hollywood (none of the 10 highest-paid film actresses in 2013 were black).

Equal Pay Helps Everyone

Diversity is a no-brainer when it comes to more productive and innovative businesses and workforces. Casting a wider net grows the talent pool with more qualified applicants. And more diverse voices in the room lead to more solutions.

Paying all workers fairly means more earners can support their families and grow the economy. Forty percent of all mothers with young children are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families — and that number is even higher among black mothers. A fair salary can mean the difference between poverty and sustainability for a family.

What Can You Do?

  1. Get the facts and share them. The pay gap is no myth, and the more people are empowered with the data to back it up, the sooner we can close the gap.
  2. Watch and share our video on the faces we want to see on #TheNew10 bill.
  3. Urge Congress to raise the minimum wage — a move that will help all women and especially black women, who make up a disproportionate majority of these workers.

Related

FFFP-the-new-10-465

Fight for Fair Pay

Read stories of women hurt by the gender pay gap, and take action.

cherylHughes-500px

Engineer Took All the Right Steps But Still Didn’t Receive Fair Pay

A year into her job at a manufacturing company, Cheryl Hughes discovered she was being paid less than her white peers.

The Simple Truth Spring 2015 Cover

The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap

You’ve probably heard that men are paid more than women are paid over their lifetimes. But what does that mean?

By:   |   July 21, 2015

24 Comments

  1. […] Reprinted with permission from the American Association of University Women. […]

    • Eve Sprunt says:

      There are other ways of pushing for equal pay besides leaning on congress.

      We need greater gender (and minority) pay transparency. Organizations should be expected to annually release a report on the percentage of women (and specified under represented minorities) at different percentiles of compensation. Shareholder proposals is one way to do this.

      You don’t have to be rich to submit a shareholder proposal. The key requirement is that you have owned $2000 worth of the company’s stock for one year. I submitted a shareholder proposal to ExxonMobil. The “meat” of the proposal was, “BE IT RESOLVED, that ExxonMobil will annually report to shareholders the percentage of women at the following percentiles of compensation: top 75% by compensation, top 50% by compensation, top 25% by compensation, top 10% by compensation, and top 2% by compensation.”

      ExxonMobil tried to exclude my proposal, but the SEC ruled that it had to be on the proxy statement. This type of proposal could be expanded to request, the percentages of women as well as of black women and of hispanic women at the following percentiles of compensation….

      I am happy to explain to others how to submit shareholder proposals. The Association for Women in Science published my “how to submit a shareholder proposal” article in their Summer 2015 issue.

  2. […] 64 percent of what white men earn for doing the same work, it would take the average Black woman an extra seven months of work to earn what a white man in their job earns in a year. Today is the day she hits that […]

  3. […] 64 percent of what white men earn for doing the same work, it would take the average Black woman an extra seven months of work to earn what a white man in their job earns in a year. Today is the day she hits that […]

  4. […] The Pay Gap Is Even Worse for Black Women, and That’s Everyone’s Problem – AAUW […]

  5. […] The Pay Gap Is Even Worse for Black Women, and That’s Everyone’s Problem AAUW […]

  6. […] Race and gender both impact how much people get paid. This is bigger than just negotiating for better salaries or other Lean In suggestions people often make. We can’t overlook the role of ongoing, systemic racism in affecting how much people earn. [Chart source: AAUW] […]

  7. […] men’s earnings: Asian American women (90 percent); white, non-Hispanic women (78 percent); African American women (64 percent); Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women (62 percent); and American Indian […]

  8. […] 63 cents to the dollar, that earnings ratio means it takes the typical black woman nearly seven extra months […]

  9. […] pay equality could take longer for women of color. For example, black women earn only 63 cents for every dollar earned by […]

  10. […] pay equality could take longer for women of color. For example, black women earn only 63 cents for every dollar earned by […]

  11. […] But pay equality could take longer for women of color. For example, black women earn only 63 cents for every dollar earned by […]

  12. […] It’s a nice effort, and it’s as appreciated as it is necessary. But just as women of color are paid less than white men, women and girls of color aren’t getting the same funding. And even when something good happens […]

  13. […] a nice effort, and it’s as appreciated as it is necessary. But just as women of color are paid less than white men, women and girls of color aren’t getting the same funding. And even when something good […]

  14. […] a nice effort, and it’s as appreciated as it is necessary. But just as women of color are paid less than white men, women and girls of color aren’t getting the same funding. And even when something good […]

  15. […] read about the wage gap (white women make less than 79 cents to every man’s dollar, black women 63 cents, Latina women a shocking 54% of what white men made per dollar in 2014); particularly haunting is […]

  16. […] inequality in the U.S. Women only make $0.82 for every $1 that men make; and Black women only make $0.63 for every $1 that White men make. There are a lot of confounding factors that come into play with […]

  17. […] pay gaps within companies exist and are a problem. Black and hispanic women face even worse wage gaps than white counterparts. Firms should do everything they can to eliminate unfairness. And, of […]

  18. […] of 2015 may have been at 4%, but it was 6.7% for Hispanic and Latina women, and 8% for Black women. White women may make $0.78 to a man’s dollar, but Black women make $0.68 on the dollar, and Hispanic and Latina women bring in only $0.54 on the […]

  19. […] rant, keep in mind what else Black girls get. Like, you know, extreme pay inequality. And three times the domestic abuse as white women. And murdered for not using a turn […]

  20. […] pay gap is worse for Black women, who earned 63 percent of the wages White men earned in 2014. Hispanic women brought home just 54 […]

  21. […] pay equality could take longer for women of color. For example, black women earn only 63 cents for every dollar earned by […]

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