As we reach Equal Pay Day—a day that symbolizes how far into the year women need to work to make what men earned the previous year—we need to recognize that women of color face even greater challenges in the gender wage gap issue.
Equal Pay Day 2018 – Here’s what you need to know
- In 2018 women will earn 80 cents for every dollar men earn
- In the past 10 years, the weekly gender wage gap has narrowed by only 2%
- It will take until 2059 for women to reach equal pay
But how does the pay gap play out for women of color?
While women across all races and ethnicities face a gender wage gap compared to white men, women of color face even greater challenges.
Breaking It Down: The Gender Wage Gap for Women of Color
So how does the wage gap harm women of color?
According to a report by the National Women’s Law Center, women comprise two-thirds of minimum wage earners in the U.S. What’s most troubling about this statistic is that more frequently Black and Latina women are those minimum wage earners comprising these numbers.
What’s even more devastating is that 80 percent of Black mothers and half of Latina mothers are the primary breadwinners in their households, which means that their families rely heavily on their wages to make ends meet and get ahead.
On average, the median wages for Black women in the United States are $36,227 per year, compared to median wages of $57,925 annually for white, non-Hispanic men. This gap amounts to a loss of $21,698 annually.
If the wage gap were eliminated, on average, a Black woman working full time, year-round would have enough money for:
- 2.5 years of child care
- Nearly 2.5 additional years of tuition and fees for a four-year public university, or the full cost of tuition and fees for a two-year community college
- 159 more weeks of food for her family (three years’ worth)
- More than 14 additional months of mortgage and utility payments or
- 22 more months of rent
Latina women who work full time, year-round are paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. This gap amounts to a loss of $26,095 each year.
If the wage gap were eliminated, on average, a Latina working full time, year-round would have enough money for:
- More than 3 additional years of child care
- 3 more years of tuition and fees for a four-year public university, or the full cost of tuition and fees for a two-year community college
- 193 more weeks of food for her family (3.7 years’ worth)
- Nearly 18 additional months of mortgage and utility payments or
- More than 2 additional years of rent
What do these numbers mean?
This means that nearly 1.3 million households led by Black mothers live in poverty. It means that nearly 1.1 million households led by Latina mothers live in poverty. This means that it is an imperative to eliminate the wage gap, not just for women in general, but for all women no matter their racial background.
Why does this matter to our work?
As we continue our mission to bridge the opportunity divide for the 4.6 million disconnected young adults (ages 18 – 24), we need to ensure that young women of color continue to connect to jobs and reach pay equity. This is of significant importance as 14.2% of young Black women and 14.8% of young Latina women comprise a large number of disconnected young adults facing high poverty rates and unique challenges such as early marriage and motherhood.
Over the past five years, LeadersUp has served more than 6,000 young women. As we continue our work to close the opportunity gap, we know that getting hired is an important first step but not enough. Together, we must find a workable solution to ensuring equal pay is within reach for all the young women we serve.
How do we reach equal pay?
To really tackle this issue, we need to understand it. Recognizing that this is a nuanced challenge will help us take action and empower the women we know. The more we learn about the gender wage gap, the easier it will be to recognize that pay discrimination exists. To learn more about what you can do to help close the pay gap, check out our POWER Talk below.