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Black Women Equal Pay Day addresses startling wage gap

woman in boardroom
Credit: Photo courtesy of Gregg Reese

It would take Black women nine extra months and then some to close the pay gap with white men. That is why Sept. 21, the ninth month of the year, was  Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.

Several organizations and governments are acknowledging the day today, which calls attention to the wide pay disparity between Black women and white men. In 2020, Black women made 58 cents for every dollar a white man made, according to Census data analyzed by the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

The figure this year includes Black women who worked part-time or seasonally to account for the disproportionate impact layoffs and caregiving responsibilities had on women during the pandemic, according to AAUW.

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day highlights the pay disparities Black women face. The day stems from Equal Pay Day, which highlights the pay disparity between women and men. Equal Pay Day was started in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity, according to AAUW.

The day lands on a different date each year, depending on the latest gender wage gap data. New days were added to bring attention to the specific disparities faced by different groups of women, according to AAUW.

To match the pay non-Hispanic white men took home in 2021, Black women would have to work an additional 264 days (through Sept. 21), according to AAUW.

“That gap stems in large part from the fact that Black women are overrepresented in low-paid jobs and face both race and sex discrimination at work. They are also often both primary caregivers and breadwinners,” the National Women’s Law Center’s website states. “But outdated, sexist workplace policies too often force Black women to choose between bringing home a paycheck and caring for themselves and their families.”

Black women who worked full-time lost $1,891 every month or $22,692 a year because of the pay gap, which amounts to $907,680 over a full 40-year career, according to the NWLC.

A USA Today analysis found that White men are almost eight times as likely as Black women to be an executive. Black men, who are themselves underrepresented, are twice as likely to be an executive as Black women.

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