5 surprising facts on the wage gap for women of color
Angela Bronner Helm, The Root | 4/10/2017, 12:08 p.m.
In honor of Equal Pay day on April 4, the American Association of University Women released its latest report on the disparity in men and women’s pay in America, and unfortunately, Black and Hispanic women have the longest way to go. We have all heard about the “20 percent” pay gap that exists between men and women—but in truth this does not reflect the reality of all women.
The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap gets to the brass tax of things, by not only addressing how the pay gap is influenced by age, race, motherhood and education levels, it now even includes information on disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. It also offers solutions on how to close it.
First, five quick facts from the report:
1 - According to AAUW, the pay gap won’t close until 2152.
2 - The gender pay gap is worse for mothers, and it only grows with age.
3 - Thanks to the pay gap, women of color especially struggle to pay off student debt.
4 - Women in every state experience the pay gap, but in some states it’s worse than others.
5 - More education helps increase women’s earnings, but it still doesn’t close the gender pay gap.
Compared to the earnings of non-Hispanic White men (the largest segment of the workforce in America), Hispanic women earn 54 cents to every white man’s dollar; Black women earn 63 cents; White women earn 75 cents and Asian women 85 cents (which all together gets us to the “20 percent” wage disparity.)
The report also dispels the notion that more education closes the gender pay gap. “As a rule, earnings increase as years of education increase for both men and women. However, while more education is a useful tool for increasing earnings, it is not effective against the gender pay gap. At every level of academic achievement, women’s median earnings are less than men’s median earnings, and in some cases, the gender pay gap is larger at higher levels of education,” notes the AAUW’s website.
The report also documents that women of color have a harder time paying off their student debt.
Yet, for all of the “bad news,” the AAUW also offers solutions to the gender pay gap:
While some CEOs have been vocal in their commitment to paying workers fairly, American women can’t wait for trickle-down change. AAUW urges companies to conduct salary audits to proactively monitor and address gender-based pay differences. It’s just good business.
Women can learn strategies to better negotiate for equal pay. AAUW’s salary negotiation workshops help empower women to advocate for themselves when it comes to salary, benefits, and promotions. In Boston or Washington, D.C.? Read more about the free workshops in your area, and stay tuned for more cities to come!
For policy makers
The Paycheck Fairness Act would improve the scope of the Equal Pay Act, which hasn’t been updated since 1963, with stronger incentives for employers to follow the law, enhance federal enforcement efforts, and prohibit retaliation against workers asking about wage practices. Tell the Congress to take action for equal pay.