The gender pay gap is one of the contributing factors to economic inequality. Women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. This means women have to work longer before they can retire, don’t earn as much as they need to raise the families they want, and are more likely to be in poverty.
But for one group of women, the statistics are even worse. African-American women make fewer cents on the dollar compared to white men then women overall. Black women earn just 64 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts.
This startling wage disparity is why today is being dubbed “Black Women’s Equal Pay Day” by some progressive organizations across the nation. The disparity further demonstrates how racial injustice and economic inequality are linked.
Groups such as Atlanta Women for Equality (AWE) are urging women to symbolically clock out of work at 2:07 pm today to bring attention to the fact that despite how much progress we think we have made in our country, black women are still being paid significantly less than white men who do the same work.
According to AWE, black women earn only 64 cents “for every dollar earned by white men”. The organization set 2:07 p.m.–approximately 64 percent of an average workday–as the time of day for black women to symbolically clock out since white men will have earned as much at this point in the day as black women working a full day. And for a black woman to earn the same income as her white male counterparts in 2014, she would need to work an extra 208 days into 2015 — or July 28, 2015.
This data also means that over the course of a 40-year career, black women would typically lose $775,000 to the wage gap – meaning they would have to work almost 63 years to earn what a white man would make in 40 years.
Although calling attention this wage gap is important, more work needs to be done to fix the problem. We need elected officials who will stand up for millions of women across the country who are working hard while not being paid a fair wage.
Union membership is another way we can decrease economic inequality and work to eliminate the wage gap for women, black women, and all minorities. Black women who are union members make an average of 13.1% more wages than their non-union counterparts. And union jobs give workers a collective voice in which they can speak out and negotiate in order to ensure equal work gets equal pay.
You can take part in Black Women’s Equal Pay Day on social media by following and using the hashtags #BlackWomenEqualPay and #ClockOut4EqualPay.