Native Women Have to Work 9 Extra Months to Make the Same Salary as White Men Made Last YearSeptember 03, 2015
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: There’s a pay gap between women and men, and that gap is even wider for women of color. But here are a few facts you might not have heard before: American Indian and Alaska Native women are paid just 58 cents for every dollar white men are paid. For Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, that number is 60 cents.
September 15 marks Native American women’s equal pay day, the day that the wages of American Indian and Alaska Native women catch up to the money white men earned last year. (It took about nine months, if you’re counting.) We’re using this occasion to honor all Native Americans, including Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, who would have reached “equal pay” back in July, right before black women did.
Here’s why you might not already know that: Native women are a notoriously understudied group. According to Catherine Hill, AAUW vice president of research, the relatively small size of their population is at least partially responsible for the lack of information. American Indians and Alaska Natives make up just 2 percent of the U.S. population, about 5.2 million men and women. There are just 1.4 million natives of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. In contrast, there are 200.9 million people in the white population and 45 million in the black or African American population.
The lack of data means that, for now, we can’t definitively say what is causing this gap, but we can hedge a few guesses. Native people face disproportionate rates of unemployment, poverty, and violence, as well as limited access to education, and women tend to bear the brunt of discrimination. Yes, there’s a pay gap between native men (who are underpaid) and native women.
There is some good news. Native American women are now going to college and holding jobs at higher rates than ever before, and we know that education and good jobs help increase earnings — though they don’t eliminate the wage gap. So for now, we’ll mark September 15, and keep agitating for some real change.
Note: AAUW uses two different data sources for earnings ratios by race/ethnicity. For African American, Asian American, and Latina and Hispanic women, we follow the Current Population Survey (CPS). Because the CPS lacks sufficient sample size for smaller demographic groups, we follow the American Community Survey (ACS) for Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, American Indian, and Alaska Native women.
Get the facts on another unequal pay day.
AAUW’s up-to-date report is the definitive breakdown of the pay gap in the United States.
Working moms often face a pay penalty, while dads get a bonus.