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August 22 2019

On Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, we don’t have to be victims

via Washington Examiner
by Patrice Lee Onwuka

Friday is supposedly Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. But I’m a black woman and I don’t buy into it. Neither should you.

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is a symbolic holiday meant to represent the day in 2019 when black women’s earnings catch up what white men earned by the end of 2018.

This holiday falls four months after Equal Pay Day for all women because, according to some, black women are not just the victims of widespread gender discrimination, but also racial discrimination. It doesn’t stop there. Native Women’s Equal Pay Day is Sept. 23 and Latina Women’s Equal Pay Day isn’t until Nov. 20.

These holidays are meant to reinforce the belief that women are overwhelmingly victimized in the workplace. But the truth is much more complicated and much more encouraging for working women.

The good news for women is that career and family decisions affect their pay far more than discrimination. Rather than empowering women with information, these holidays are used to push leftist policies that can erode flexibility and opportunity for women in the workplace.

Debunking The Pay Gap

First, let’s understand where the gender pay gap comes from.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women typically earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. That is a comparison of the median wages of full-time working men and women, but it does not compare women and men in the same profession, working the same hours, and holding the same qualifications, experience, and talent.

Full-time women work fewer hours each day than full-time men and fewer women work full time. Just controlling for hours worked reduces the pay gap to 11%.

Controlling for all of these factors along with education, industry, age, and location shrinks the pay gap to a few cents. For example, an analysis by Glassdoor found that the pay gap is just 4.9%. There’s no conclusive evidence that this remaining gap is due specifically to discrimination.

The pay gaps for Black and Latina women are even bigger: 61 cents and 53 cents, respectively, of what white men earn. Comparing Black and Latina women to their male counterparts (a more honest comparison) reveals much smaller pay gaps in median weekly earnings of 89% and 86%, respectively.

When controlling for career-related factors, the Black and Latina pay gaps would likely shrink further too.

Discrimination is Illegal, We Don’t Need More Laws

Gender and race wage discrimination is illegal and has been for over five decades. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protect women from race and gender discrimination in the workplace.

Employers can pay men and women in the same positions differently only for specific reasons including experience, education, and seniority. A woman may also negotiate remote work or more comp time over a higher salary. That is not a sign of discrimination, but the flexibility that many women value over a bigger paycheck.

Activists and lawmakers on the Left exploit the gender and race pay gaps by drawing unsupported links to discrimination. For example, the leftist American Association of University Women claims that the racial pay gaps result from factors including “occupational segregation, bias against working mothers, direct pay discrimination,” as well as “racial bias, disability, access to education, and age.” Yet, they provide no evidence.

They are preying upon people’s emotions to push for greater government involvement in the workplace rather than to educate women on what they can do to better their future.

Empower, Don’t Victimize

Black women should be paid what they’re worth. That starts with knowing what they’re worth.

Thanks to the internet, people have vast amounts of information on salaries that can be curated across many dimensions, including location and experience. With that information, black women can negotiate for what they want — such as more pay or more flexibility.

Young black women also need to understand the salaries that their college majors and chosen vocations will carry.

Currently, black women are concentrated in low-paying jobs such as retail and personal care and they're under-represented in high-paying management, professional, and related occupations.

Advanced education can help expand opportunities, but that depends on the fields of study. Many black women gravitate to majors and careers in healthcare, human services, and education which are lower-paying.

I am not naive. Racial and gender discrimination does exist and it should be prosecuted.

However, I push back on the pervasive victimhood narrative that says black women are being held down. We are more than capable of making career and educational decisions that can lead to a bright future, and shouldn’t be encouraged to think otherwise.





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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