Equal Pay? Women Of Color Get The Short End Of The Stick

Illustration for article titled Equal Pay? Women Of Color Get The Short End Of The Stick

The American Prospect has a series of stories out this week about the prospects for making up the racial wage and income gap (and how African-American and Hispanic women have the worst gap of any subgroup). Suffice it to say, the prospects are not great because the causes are so varied and intractable, ranging from non-racial reasons that simply disproportionately affect African-Americans to straight-up discrimination to the fact that getting advanced degrees can make the wage gap worsedespite what John McCain thinks, education doesn't flatten out the wage. So whither the race for equality?It's not that education is a bad place to start — studies all show that the average college-educated person of whatever race and gender makes more than the high-school graduate of the same race and gender. No one is suggesting otherwise. But the case can and should be made — National Black MBA Association meetings aside — that trying to fix the problems that are causing the wage gap can't stop there. Studies show that lip service and diversity-recruitment initiatives aside, race and racial stereotypes still feed into hiring decisions — to the detriment of women of color and to, frankly, companies themselves, many of which could probably use fewer yes-men and more people with a diversity of thought and experience from whom to draw ideas. Women of color, naturally, face a more than a double whammy as studies show that they don't do as well as either white women or men of color in getting jobs or getting equal pay. This comes even as 44 percent of black households have a woman and the main breadwinner. Black women's median pay only increased by 22 percent between 1975 and 2000, while white women saw an increase of 32 percent. Race and gender seemingly play off each other to a point where women of color aren't merely as disadvantaged as women or as men of color, they're more disadvantaged than either grouping regardless of education achievement, which is a hard pill to swallow in a country that promises equality of opportunity. So, what to do? Few of the authors of these pieces offer any concrete answers given that the reasons the wage gap persists are so varied. But maybe, as Bill Clinton said on The View this morning, the first step really is to acknowledge not how far we've come but how far we have left to go. As these studies indicate, that's quite a way. Women of Color [The American Prospect] Understanding the Black-White Earnings Gap [The American Prospect] Black Women: The Unfinished Agenda [The American Prospect] McCain Dismisses Equal Pay Legislation, Says Women Need More 'Training And Education.' [Think Progress] Less Notorious BIG, More PhDs [The Guardian]


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Erin Gloria Ryan

They're at a disadvantage because black women are not as good at rapping or playing basketball.