There has never been a time in this country (United States) when there has not been a wage gap that exists along intersecting gender and racial lines.
You may already be familiar with the Gender Wage Gap, the difference in the yearly earning of men and women based on the median earnings of men. According to The Center for American Progress, women earned 83 cents to each dollar a man earned in 2020. This alone is staggering, but as discussed in Day 14’s material on Intersectionality, it is imperative that we recognize the unique experiences people have based on the intersection of their social identities that can create further marginalization. In this statistic we are assuming all women are the same, leaving out the experiences of trans women, women of color, disabled women and more.
So, what happens if we take an intersectional framework lens and center race on this same data? According to that same American Progress report, the 83 cents gap is widened when race is factored in. Hispanic women earn only 57 cents, Native women 60 cents, multiracial Black women 63 cents, and Black women 64 cents for each dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men. When race is centered in the equation, we can see how the gap is wider and changes based on a woman’s race. For comparison, white women earned 79 cents and Asian women earned $1.01 compared to white, non-Hispanic men.
This example helps reveal the racial wealth gap — the disparity in median wealth between different racial groups in the United States. In a 2018 study, the Federal Reserve found that the median Black household has less than 11 percent the wealth of the median white household (about $15,000 versus $140,000). Evidence shows that this gap has been growing for more than 60 years.
Taking the same intersectional approach that we looked at in the gender pay gap, let’s look at the gap based on the LGBTQIA+ community. According to The Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQIA+ workers earn about 90 cents to each dollar that the typical worker earns. Now, when we center race and gender, we see an entirely different story that points to the further marginalization of people based on multiple layers of oppression. That same study by the Human Rights Campaign found that Black LGBTQIA+ women earn 85 cents, Native American LGBTQIA+ women earn 75 cents, Latinx women earn 72 cents, and trans women earn 60 cents for every dollar compared to a typical worker.
It’s important to keep in mind that in this summary we did not cover every type of systemic oppression that a person may face when it comes to the wage gap. When you review today’s materials, we encourage you to reflect on your own experiences with the wage gap and how the wage gap may widen when accounting for intersectionality.