African-American women face significant pay gap

Some African-American women in Tennessee may have experienced even greater disparities in pay than all women do as a group compared to men. In order to make the same amount of money that the average white, non-Hispanic man makes in 12 months, a black woman must work for 19 months. Black Women's Equal Pay Day, which fell on July 31, is an effort to raise awareness about this pay gap.

Other statistics give more detail about the income gap. On average, white non-Hispanic men who have graduated from high school make more than black women who have graduated from college. Furthermore, while African-American women are more likely to have a college degree and a job than African-American men, on average, they still only make 89 percent of the income of African-American men. Over a lifetime, this disparity can add up to as much as $1 million less in income despite the fact that well over three-fourths of black women mothers are the main breadwinners or co-breadwinners in their families.

Black women face other types of workplace discrimination including bans on popular African-American hairstyles or comments that such hairstyles are unprofessional. Since more than one-fourth of black women work in the service industry, many also face issues such as a lack of paid leave and low pay.

The precariousness of many black women's position in the workplace might make them even less likely to report incidences of harassment and discrimination than other workers. Even workplaces that ostensibly have a system in place to deal with these violations may not have effective remedies in practice. African-American women could face retaliation, termination or other impediments to their career as a result of reporting such behavior. Therefore, a black woman who is dealing with workplace discrimination may want to meet with an employment law attorney to discuss her situation.

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