The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 has outlawed discrimination based on sex, race, religion, or national origin. However, more than 50 years later, women in the world, and the US, are still paid less than their male colleagues. The pay gap is not only a matter of gender, but it is also a matter of race, and the wages women are earning differ from white women to women of color. While white women need to work approximately 456 days to earn the same amount of money that white non-Hispanic men earned in 365 days, black women need to work an additional 125 days on average. According to the National Women’s Law Center, a black woman gets paid 65 cents for every one dollar that a white male earns, which translates to a loss of 1 million dollars of income over a life-long career.
There are various causes for the pay gap, from historical reasons to current barriers. One of the reasons is occupational segregation. Black women are underrepresented in high-income jobs and overrepresented in low-income jobs. Parental status is also a factor, and according to Forbs magazine, black mothers earn 50 cents to every dollar that a white father earns. In a study published in the Washington Center of Equitable Growth, the researchers found that Black and Latinas workers are less likely to leave their job for a better one, and breadwinner mothers have a bigger chance to take a suboptimal job that guarantees they can take care of their families, a fact that employers use to offer lower salaries. Another aspect is student loans, and though more black women are earning academic degrees, they are more dependent on returning their debt, which influences their job searching process.
National Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is observed every year on the day in which black women’s earnings reached the same amount that their white counterparts made in the previous year. The mission of observing this day is to raise awareness of the long-standing gender and racial gap and its impact, not only on the economic security of black women but also on the American society as a whole. The day provides an opportunity to learn about the issue, to take action by hiring or promoting a woman of color, and to join the conversation on social media by using #BlackWomensEqualPay.
Follow this link to learn more about women who fought for labor reforms in the US.
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