By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Black women will not achieve equal pay with white men for at least another century, according to a report released Thursday.
“What that means in real terms is that my daughter and my daughter’s daughter will not see pay equity in their lifetime if we do nothing to accelerate closing the pay gap,” Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), told Good Morning America of her organization’s research that estimates Black women will not bring home the same earnings as white men for the same jobs until 2130.
“Since 1960, the pay gap [for Black women] has only closed by about 20 cents,” Mason added, pointing to the slow pace of change so far in the United States.
The IWPR’s report came on the same day as Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, a day meant to recognize that Black women have to work more than 220 days into 2020 to earn what a white man in the same job earned in 2019.
White women caught up to their male counterparts this year by April 9.
For every dollar a white man earns, Black women earn 62 cents, according to the Equal Pay Today Campaign, a coalition of legal advocacy, worker justice and social justice organizations.
The pay gap Black women face is being felt even more heavily this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, during which Black women have been hit disproportionately hard financially.
“Because Black women are over-represented in the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic, service sector, hospitality and leisure, even though the overall unemployment for women in general has dropped by about two percentage points, the unemployment rate for Black women still remains high, at about 14%,” said Mason. “When you couple that with having to show up to work, facing childcare demands when schools are closed, it puts Black women in a very precarious situation.”
Black women are also more likely to be the breadwinner for their family, so the pay gap “really matters” in a time of economic uncertainty that we see today, according to Mason.
“When we have a pandemic and then the economic downturn, there’s less money to ride out an economic storm, less money that they’re bringing home, especially if their hours have been cut,” she said. “Some people think that the pay gap doesn’t exist or you don’t really feel it, but women feel it every day in their wallets, every day when they go to work and bring home less, or during an economic downturn or job loss, they don’t have the money they need to be able to provide for their families.”
Over the course of their lifetimes, Black women lose nearly $2 million on average because of the pay gap, a figure that Mason describes as “really devastating.”
“It translates directly into money not in their pockets to save for economic downturns like the one we find ourselves in, to send their children to college,” she said. “It’s also less money, again, that Black women have to save, to invest, to start a new business, and ultimately to provide for their families.”
Mason describes the disparity for Black women as a “double whammy” that they face because they are both Black and women.
“It’s the intersection of both racism and sexism,” she said. “It’s a double whammy for Black women in the workforce.”
A new report from Lean In, the organization founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, found that disparities for Black women are rooted in the workplace.
“In all of Lean In’s research on the state of women at work, we see the same general pattern: Women are having a worse experience than men. Women of color are having a worse experience than white women,” the report said. “And Black women in particular are having the worst experience of all.”
There were 10.7 million Black women in the labor force in 2018, or 53% of the Black labor force, according to the Department of Labor.
When it comes to solutions for closing the pay gap for Black women, Mason points to both employers and the federal government.
“At the federal level, we can pass legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act, which promotes pay equity and pay transparency and prevents employers from asking about salary history, which goes a long way in terms of helping to close the gap,” she said. “And enforcement of the Civil Rights Act and Equal Employment Opportunity legislation to mitigate issues related to workforce and workplace discrimination.”
“Employers have a role to play in terms of making sure there is pay equity and making sure that women across the board earn what they’re worth and the skills and talents they bring to the table,” Mason added. “And as a culture and a society, we have a lot of work to do in terms of breaking gender stereotypes around women in the workplace, their value and how much women should be paid for their work.”
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