Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, which marks how far into the year a Black woman in the United States must work to earn the same amount as the average white man made last year.
Falling on August 13, 2020, Black women must work more than eight extra months to be compensated the same amount as their white male counterparts.
In 2020, the average woman earns 82 cents to every dollar made by an average white man—but Black women experience this gap far more acutely, earning just 62 cents.
While the wage gap continues to impact women of all backgrounds, gender discrimination intersects with racial discrimination to shape Black women’s experiences in the workplace and erode their wages further.
Hiring and promotion practices, company cultures, and historic systems of oppression that make it difficult for Black people to invest in educational and career opportunities all contribute to Black women’s unequal treatment. It has been estimated that Black women miss out on approximately $941,600 over a 40-year career because of the wage gap.
While Black women are still under-represented in the highest-paying jobs like engineering and technology where the gender wage gap is the smallest, they proportionately hold more full-time minimum wage jobs than any other racial group.
And, Black women are over-represented in many of the industries experiencing massive job loss due to the pandemic, including the hospitality, restaurant, and retail industries. Consequently, the unemployment rate for Black women has tripled as of June.
Equal pay is critical to the economic stability of women and families. In two-thirds of Black households, women are the primary breadwinners, and unfairly low wages mean families are forced to make sacrifices.
While progress is being made, it is not happening fast enough. At the current rate, Black women will not earn what white men do for another 100 years.
“There’s a significant racial wealth gap in America and Black women’s wage gap certainly plays a role in it,” said Emily Martin, Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice. “For many Black women, the cost of the lifetime wage gap comes close to a million dollars—and in some states it’s more. It’s time for the Senate to follow the lead of the House and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Women and their families literally can’t wait any longer.”