This Is How Long Black Women Must Work To Earn The Same As White Men | WOSU Radio

This Is How Long Black Women Must Work To Earn The Same As White Men

Aug 22, 2019

Aug. 22 is Black Women's Equal Pay Day. That's the day in 2019 that symbolizes how much longer black women have to work before their wages catch up to what white men were paid in 2018.

U.S. women make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. For black women, the number is even lower at 61 cents.

"In Ohio, women make 78 cents on the dollar as compared to all men," says Deborah Vagins, senior vice president of public policy and research at the American Association of University Women.

"Black women in Ohio make 64 cents on the dollar as compared to white men in Ohio," she reports.

Vagins says the wage gap is consistent across industries and occupations.

"For black women and other women of color, the gap widens so this is consistent, unfortunately, across states," she points out.

The numbers are even more dismal for Native American women - 58 cents on the dollar - and Latinas - 53 cents on the dollar. Native Women's Equal Pay Day is in September and Latina Equal Pay Day is in November.

"Latinas have to work almost an entire extra year - 23 months - to make what white men make in 12 months," Vagins says. 

Changing that wage gap starts with understanding the causes. She points to direct discrimination where women are offered lower wages, fewer promotions and smaller raises. That's intensified for women of color who deal with intersecting discrimination. "It could be based on gender, it could be based on race, it could be based on both," she says.

Another problem is occupational segregation. Vagins describes this as women being segregated into lower paying fields and specialties and being over-represented in minimum wage work.

"Particularly women of color are over-represented in minimum wage work," Vagins says. "That's a huge factor in why women overall make less than men overall."

Women who are mothers also face problems.

"People make erroneous assumptions about women's and mother's worth to companies. They are often offered less with some kind of assumption that they will be less committed or drop out of the workforce," Vagins says. "And this is true even when women don't leave the workforce."

The AAUW offers tools for helping women negotiate for higher pay and better benefits. The group also encourages people to get educated on the wage gap issue and state equal pay laws. It's also pushing for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which it says addresses loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act.

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