President Obama gave his State of the Union Address last night and in a moment that stuck out to me, he said, Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work…. I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds.
It was met with thunderous applause by the house and I whole-heartedly agree. That 77 cents for every dollar ratio is sadly, a widely stated fact. The president is right, it is an embarrassment and more so, it is a crime.
However, the statistic I was not aware of is that women of color make 64 cents for every white male dollar, as pointed out by writer and advocate, Shelby Knox.
Just think about that for a second, a woman already makes 23 cents less than a man per dollar. Yet, a woman of color makes 36 cents less than a man per dollar and 13 cents less than a white female.
I am embarrassed that I did not know this statistic. Yet, more than that, I am appalled that a 36% gender and race gap exists in 2014 when it comes to equal pay in the workforce.
The further I dug, the more disparaging the numbers became. As Sophia Kerby states on AmericanProgress.org, The racial wealth differences in the United States are consequences of disparities occurring over a lifetime and result in a median wealth of only $5 for women of color between the ages of 35 to 49—virtually no wealth at all. Conversely, white women in that age cohort have a median wealth of $42,600, and white men in that age group enjoy a median wealth of $70,030.
Even further, The disparity in income adds up to more than $430,000 in lost wages for an individual woman and even more for a woman of color over her working life.
That means, less food on the table, less money for mortgages, bills and so on. The quality of life is lessened, based on pay that should be equal. Yet, the question is, what can we do to change this?
Kerby states in the closing of her article, Promoting and uplifting women of color is crucial to growing our economy. Ensuring that all working women, and particularly women of color, receive fair wages for their work not only means that they can adequately provide for themselves and their families, but also means they can make an even greater contribution to the nation’s prosperity.
Setting in legislature and innitivatives in motion to is essential to closing the wage gap for women is and unfortunately, it is even more so for women of color.