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% more wealth than the median Black adult with some college education. That means relying on education alone to close the pay gap will not work for women, especially Black women.
Black women are more likely to work in lower-paying service occupations (like food service, domestic work and health care assistance) than any other industry 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 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 just 1% of the high-paying engineering workforce and 3% 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.