Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day – bet you didn’t know that. Today is a day where we recognize the huge wage gap black women experience in today’s workforce. For black women, to make the same amount of money as a man in 2016, a black woman would need to work ALL of 2016, PLUS seven extra months, which would be today, July 31, 2017. For every $1 a man makes, a black woman makes approximately $0.63.
Serena Williams, who has been a long time advocate of equal pay, wrote an essay for Fortune Magazine about why we need to continue to acknowledge this day.
I’d like to acknowledge the many realities black women face every day. To recognize that women of color have to work—on average—eight months longer to earn the same as their male counterparts do in one year. To bring attention to the fact that black women earn 17% less than their white female counterparts and that black women are paid 63% of the dollar men are paid. Even black women who have earned graduate degrees get paid less at every level. This is as true in inner cities as it is in Silicon Valley.
In her essay, Serena not only discusses the issues surrounding the disturbing pay gap for black women, she also talks about working on solutions, especially for women in Silicon Valley, where fields are grossly male dominated. Serena is working with companies like Survey Monkey to determine how she can “push the needle forward” that will open doors, not only for women – but for any group of people, no matter their skin color. Serena goes on to explain in her essay:
Unfair pay has prevailed for far too long with no consequence. Through decades of systematic oppression, black women have been conditioned to think they are less than. In many cases, these women are the heads of households. Single mothers. The issue isn’t just that black women hold lower-paying jobs. They earn less even in fields of technology, finance, entertainment, law, and medicine.
Celebrities and advocates around the internet are also supporting this day and Serena’s campaign by rocking “Phenomenal Woman” t-shirts. In recognition of this day, black women are asked to speak out and against the wage disparities happening here in the U.S. In the words of Serena and in the spirit of Auntie Maxine, Let’s reclaim our time, money and “Let’s get back those 37 cents.”