On Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, Media Highlight Plight Of Women Of Color In The Workplace

According to the most recently available data, African-American women on average are paid only 60 percent of what white men are paid in a year, meaning they would have to work almost nine additional months to catch up. August 23 is an annual day of action, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, focused on that issue, and numerous media outlets have noted the event by highlighting the plight of African-American women in the workforce.

The Gender Pay Gap Is Even Wider For Black Women

African-American Women Earn 60 Cents For Every Dollar White Men Earn. The Center for American Progress (CAP) broke down the economic disparities faced by African-American women in the workplace on August 23. CAP found that women overall earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, but also that the gap widens by an additional 19 cents for black women compared to white men. This translates into an average lifetime earnings gap of $877,480 for each African-American woman versus her white male counterparts. [Center for American Progress, 8/23/16]

The Gender Pay Gap Affects Women Of Every Race, Background, Age And Level Of Education. American Association of University Women (AAUW) issued a report on the gender pay gap in the spring of 2016. AAUW found “the pay gap affects women from all backgrounds, at all ages, and of all levels of educational achievement” and that the gap cannot be completely “explained away” by different life and career choices men and women make. When AAUW broke down the gender pay gap for each racial group in the United States, researchers found that it is apparent in every racial group but that whites and Asian-Americans have higher incomes than all other groups:

[The American Association of University Women, Spring 2016]

Despite Efforts To Raise Awareness, Conservative Media Still Won’t Acknowledge Pay Gap. This year, April 12 was recognized as Equal Pay Day for all women -- a day that “symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year,” according to the National Committee on Pay Equity. Despite efforts toward equitable pay in the United States over the past several decades, American women still face a considerable gap in pay when compared to their male counterparts. Rather than acknowledging the overwhelming evidence that American women are still paid less than men for the same work, conservative media have promoted myths and misinformation that obscure the truth about pay disparities. [Media Matters, 4/12/16]

Media Observe Day Of Action By Highlighting Plight Of Black Women

Ebony: Time To Admit “Racism And Sexism Exist.” On August 23, Ebony magazine published an op-ed by Tracy Sturdivant, co-executive director of Make It Work, on the gender pay gap, which she says affects women of color more than white women because “racism and sexism exist, and where they intersect, the impact is devastating.” Sturdivant compared the gender gap to climate change, saying both face “fervent deniers,” but “most people know that – like climate change – it is a very real issue that needs to be addressed.” From the August 23 article:

Fields dominated by Black women pay less, and Black women are paid less than White men – and, frequently, White women – even when they do the exact same job.

At some point, you have to stop talking in circles and just get real. Racism and sexism exist, and where they intersect, the impact is devastating. A recent article came to a startling conclusion: if current trends persist, it will take the average Black family 228 years to accumulate as much wealth as White households own today. That extra seven months adds up – every single year – and has been adding to the wealth gap for centuries.

This is an outrage, and it needs to change – today. [Ebony, 8/23/16]

Huff. Post: African-American Women Face A Wage Gap For One Simple Reason -- “Discrimination.” The Huffington Post broke down four facts everyone should know about the pay gap faced by African-American women on August 23: The gap costs black women on “average of $877,480 over her 40-year career”; the gap affects all fields; “higher education isn’t the silver bullet”; and the “why” is simple -- discrimination. The Huffington Post summarized its findings with the simple quote from Emily Martin of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) about the staggering gap in lifetime earnings:

[The Huffington Post, 8/23/16]

New York Magazine: “Gender Pay Gap Sucks For Every Woman — But Unfortunately, It Continues To Be Worse For Some Than Others.” New York magazine’s blog The Cut used August 23 to report on the work of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which found that black and Native American women saw the largest wage declines between 2004 and 2014. New York noted that while there is much publicity focused on the issue, that publicity creates “the illusion that we’re making progress” when progress toward reducing the gender pay gap has actually stalled or reversed for many groups:

Between 2004 and 2014, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that Native-American and black women’s wages declined by at least 5 percent, which is three times more than women’s earnings overall. For black women for the past ten years, annual earnings decreased by 5 percent and for Native-American women they decreased by 5.8 percent.

Overall, women’s wages decreased by 1.6 percent. Unsurprisingly, white women’s wages saw the smallest decrease, shrinking over ten years by 0.3 percent, and the wages of women who identify as Asian/Pacific Islanders wages actually increased by 1.2 percent. [New York, 8/23/16]

NBCNews.com: “African American Women Are Being Shortchanged” By Pay Gap. Leslie Watson Malachi of People for the American Way described how black women are “shortchanged” by the gender pay gap in an August 23 column published by NBCNews.com. Malachi noted that the pay gap faced by black and Latina women “is far more dramatic than the one facing white women” -- so large that it would be the equivalent of “15 more months of mortgage and utilities payments”:

African American women are being shortchanged with each paycheck—which, in turn, can affect any number of other parts of our lives, from health care to education to housing.

With the elimination of the wage gap, for example, the National Partnership for Women and Families in 2015 reported it would mean “169 more weeks of food for her family (3.2 years' worth); 15 more months of mortgage and utilities payments; more than 23 more months of rent; 10,753 additional gallons of gas.” [NBCNews.com, 8/23/16]