Gender and Race Both Have a Major Impact on Black Women’s Inequality in the Workforce

A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that both racism and sexism play a role in inequality faced by Black women in the nation’s workforce. According to the report, in 2017 Black women earned 61 cents for every dollar earned by White men, amounting to $23,653 less in earnings over an entire year. In the span of a 40-year career, this translates into an average lifetime earnings gap of $946,120 between Black women and White men.

The researchers note that “Black women experience both a race and gender wage gap that reflects the intersectional reality of their daily lives. The sharpest earnings differences are between Black women and White men, who are benchmarked as the highest earners, but Black women also experience wage disparities when compared with White women and Black men. As experts have noted, it is important to understand that this race-gender wage gap consists of more than simply adding the separate numbers associated with each gap. Rather, it reflects a unique effect that results from how the combination of race and gender are perceived together.”

The authors of the report go to state that “Black women face unfair expectations, unique challenges, and biased assumptions about where they fit in the workplace that differ from the perceptions held about women from other racial and ethnic groups as well as men. Black women have had to navigate and at times confront competing, flawed, or incomplete narratives about their work ethic, family responsibilities, and overall value that influence decisions about what they should earn. When sexism and racism intersect in the workplace, the effect is devastating.”

The report offers several steps that can be taken to reduce or eliminate the racial and gender pay gap.

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