According to research, the average woman loses as much as $418,800 over a 40-year career. This number increases for non-white women.
What is the wage gap?
The wage gap is the difference between the average amount of money that a man earns and the amount that a woman earns. It is usually recorded either as the ratio or the pay gap.
Okay, now that you are aware of what the wage gap is, it’s time to deal with the crux of my issue: people’s perception of it. Some people are not aware of the fact that the wage gap affects women of colour differently to white women. This is because if they are ever confronted with information and statistics about the wage gap, usually they are told a vague statement with ‘women’ as a large umbrella term.
It is quite well known that White women gain an average of 75 cents to every dollar that a white man makes. However, many are unaware of the fact that this number decreases with other racial minorities, with the exception of Asian women. Asian women earn 85 cents to every dollar that a white man makes. Conversely, Black women earn 63 cents while Native American women earn 58 cents to every dollar. Women of Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander descent earn 60 cents to every dollar and Latina women earn 54 cents to every dollar.
But these are not the only statistics that exist. In 2015, the Pew Research Centre wrote a report about the racial wage gap. They found that black women earned $13 as an average hourly wage, white women earned $17 and Asian women earned $18. Hispanic women earned the lowest at $12.
The National Women’s Law Center has created an interactive map which shows how much money women lose due to today’s wage gap. On average, women will lose $418,800 over a 40-year career. However, as to be expected, this number will again decrease with women of different races. For Latina women, the amount of money that can be lost over a career can be $1,043,800. For Black women it can be $840,040. This is unacceptable. By this standard, women of colour will find it harder to be able to provide for themselves and/or their family.
It is a common misconception that the wage gap is decreasing. Valerie Wilson and William M. Rodgers III wrote a report in September 2016 for the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The report focused on the wage gap between black and white people and showed some startling statistics. An example is that the wage gap for women has increased from the average hourly wage of 6 per cent in 1979 to 19 per cent in 2015. Also, black men’s average hourly wages were 22.2 per cent lower than white men’s in 1979 but in 2015 these had decreased even further to 31 per cent. Valerie Wilson, the director of the EPI’s program on race ethnicity and the economy, gave The Guardian this statement:
‘The finding that stands out the most, our major result, is that the racial wage gaps were larger in 2015 than they were in 1979. That’s huge because the impression people have, in general, is we know there’s still racism in this country, but we think or at least believe that it’s getting better’.
This proves that the wage gap is still a very significant problem that we should be battling. More importantly, we should not only be trying to reduce the wage gap between men and women but also between white women and women of colour. Clearly, there is still progress to be made and if it doesn’t then the situation is only likely to get worse.