Today marks Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, an event that seeks to highlight how many additional days in 2017 black women would need to work to earn what their male counterparts did in all of 2016.
Some argue the pay gap is a myth, calling it “gender occupational segregation” — men and women tend to choose different careers, which sometimes creates unequal pay wages.
Equal pay often has been a core issue at the front of the women’s equality movement. White women earn 81 cents to the dollar for doing the same work their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts do, but women of color — particularly black women — make far less than their male and white female counterparts. Today, black women make around 67 cents to the white non-Hispanic male dollar.
#BlackWomensEqualPay Day falls on July 31— marking how long into 2017 black women have to work to make the same pay as her white male counterpart was paid last year.
Despite being the most educated group in the United States, black women continue to fall behind in the gender pay gap.
Two-thirds of black women in the workforce have some post-secondary education, where 29.4 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher — yet black women are still drastically underpaid compared to white men. The gap for Hispanic women is especially dismal, where Hispanic women make 59 cents compared to white, non-Hispanic males.
“The usual explanations of the pay gap perpetuate racial and gender biases and stereotypes of black workers as unmotivated and lazy, but the data tell another story,” the Economic Policy Institute’s Working Economics blog wrote. “Regardless of their connection to the labor market, their level of educational attainment, or their occupation, they (black women) are paid less than their white male counterparts.”
While the gender pay gap has decreased, the racial gap has increased: The racial disadvantage black women face has limited their ability to narrow the gender pay gap, Valerie Wilson, director of the institute’s program on race, ethnicity and the economy, told The Guardian in 2016.
“There’s no question that white women benefited more from the narrowing of the gender wage gap than black women,” Wilson said. Black women earn 19 percent less than white women.
From politicians to celebrities, many expressed their thoughts surrounding #BlackWomensEqualPay Day and the issues surrounding the unequal economic treatment black women continue to face.
Tennis star and entrepreneur Serena Williams wrote an op-ed for Fortune for #BlackWomensEqualPay, giving encouraging words for black women facing economic inequalities:
“Black women: Be fearless. Speak out for equal pay. Every time you do, you’re making it a little easier for a woman behind you. Most of all, know that you’re worth it. It can take a long time to realize that. It took me a long time to realize it. But we are all worth it.”