Speaking of Women's Rights: 04/18

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Gender Wage Gap, By the Numbers

By Andrew Kashyap

On Equal Pay Day it’s critical to remember that the pay gap is not equal for all women. The wage gap is wider for women of color, and for other marginalized women including lesbians, transgender women, and women with disabilities.

While White women make 79 cents for every dollar made by their White male counterparts those figures drop to 63 cents for Black women, 57 cents for Native women, and 54 cents for Latinas. While Asian women on the whole make 87 cents for every dollar earned by White Men, that shrouds the fact that subgroups among Asian women experience some of the highest disparities, such as Vietnamese women at 62 cents and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women at 59 cents of every dollar earned by White men. 

Those wage gaps translate into huge annual earnings losses for women of color. The following figures put that in perspective: 
  • $21,698 for Black women
  • $24,007 for Native women
  • $26,403 for Latinas
This racial wage gap for women of color is grounded in other racial inequities in our society that impact wages. Education is a factor: Black and Latina women have the lowest rates of college degrees among women which results in lower wages. Occupational segregation by gender and race is another critical factor; while women overall are overrepresented in low wage occupations such as service sector and clerical jobs, and men underrepresented in these jobs, women of color are twice as likely as their white female counterparts to be employed in low wage jobs. Eliminating the racial wage gap means dismantling some deeper disparities in our economy and a multi-pronged approach to solutions. 

The bottom line: it is clear that the intersection of race and gender compounds the pay gap further. We must continue to elevate and address this reality—in the same breath that we discuss the overall gap based solely on gender.

Likewise, intersections of sexual orientation and gender identity further reduce women’s wages:
  • Lesbian women make less than men, regardless of the men’s sexual orientation. According to the most recent analysis available, women in same-sex couples have a median personal income of $38,000, compared to $47,000 for men in same-sex couples and $48,000 for men in different-sex couples.
  • Transgender women make less after they transition. One study found that the average earnings of transgender women workers fall by nearly one-third after transition. 
The wage gap also has a disparate impact on workers with disabilities. Women with disabilities working full time, year round are typically paid just 73 cents for every dollar men without disabilities make and 76 cents of what men with disabilities make.

Equal Pay Day is an important day to recognize the continuing struggle against systemic discrimination based on gender, signified by the fact it takes more than four extra months for a woman to earn what a man makes in a year. But it is also a day to recognize the distinctions among different communities of women that result in even higher wage gaps for those living at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities. 

The racial pay gap for women of color is massive, and policies that contribute to it are pervasive. Legal Voice calls for concentrating our focus and efforts on eliminating the pay gap—and other similar barriers to gender justice—on those women who are impacted the most.

Andrew Kashyap is Senior Attorney at Legal Voice, where his work focuses on economic justice.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash