Gender, Race, and the Wage Gap: Why Intersectionality Matters

We often talk about the wage gap solely in terms of gender. From the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to the argument over whether a wage gap exists at all, we are usually only talking about men vs. women. The wage disparities that many people face, however, have more to do with the intersection of gender and race. White women, the group of people who are most talked about and targeted in the discussions of the wage gap, actually make more money than everybody except white men. Black men make less than white women, and black women make less than black men. Hispanic men make less than black women. Finally, hispanic women are most disadvantaged by the wage gap, making only $0.60 to a white man’s dollar.

Before I continue on with this discussion, I’d like to address some of the confusion that arises when we talk about the wage gap. The wage gap exists and is affected both by race and gender. However, the statistics that are used in order to locate the wage gap vary enormously. Many people argue that choices, not racism or sexism, create the wage gap¹. They argue that men work more hours per week than women and that women tend to enter lower-paying career fields. These arguments have been debunked time and time again². No matter how many outside factors you control for, women make less money than men for doing the same work.

Women are not the only demographic affected  by the wage gap. Race weighs more heavily on wage disparities than gender. But the wage gap is still seen as merely a feminist issue. This is why feminism and other movements for equality need to look at this and many other issues with an intersectional lens. The wage gap affects working women, but it also affects men of color, single-parent families, and poverty levels. Media coverage of the wage gap needs to include these groups that are affected the most, not just focus on white women vs. white men. Feminism does not own the fight against the wage gap. This fight belongs to men and women of color, families in poverty, gay and transgender workers, as well as women everywhere.

For more information on the wage gap and intersectionality, see:

Infographic: The Gender Pay Gap– See What Inequity in Earnings Costs Women and Their Families Each Year and Over Their Lifetimes

Top 10 Facts About The Wage Gap 

Pay Equity and Single Mothers of Color: Eliminating Race-Based and Gender-Based Wage Gap Key to American Prosperity

The Gay and Transgender Wage Gap: Many Workers Receive Less Pay Due to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

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11 Comments

Filed under feminism, gender, identity, politics, privilege, sexism, social justice, Uncategorized

11 responses to “Gender, Race, and the Wage Gap: Why Intersectionality Matters

  1. Pingback: Equal Pay Today! (for last year anyway …)

  2. Toby B. Goode

    That premise depicts a classic example of the broken window fallacy. Astute and successful employers base an employee’s wage on marginal revenue product. They will pay you what they deem your labor is worth to the business – take it or leave it. If you think it’s “unfair” and manage to screech loudly enough to change it, is the result really “fair”? You cry, “What about me?” But if it turns out the employer’s assessment was correct and you aren’t really worth that much to the business, then what about the employer? Huh? Huh? What about the other employees? What about the customers? What about the far-reaching effects of price inflation and fiat currency that arise from paying wages above an employee’s marginal revenue product? All of those effects eventually come back to bite everyone, including the very employees who complained in the first place.

    Don’t like your pay? Here’s how it works: Quit that job and search for an employer who voluntarily agrees to pay you what you think your labor is worth. Or start your own business and put your own capital at risk rather than howling for an employer to do the same. If you really are that beneficial to a business, you will be paid accordingly. The reason you don’t see any midgets in the NBA is not because of midget-hating team owners who get together in smoke-filled rooms and yuck it up making midget jokes while colluding to engage in some kind of “unfair” hiring practices or “discriminatory” pay scales that are specifically designed to keep the midgets in poverty. It’s because midgets can’t play professional freakin’ basketball!

  3. Obamaisanasshole

    Sucks to be you. Women and blacks have embraced the ‘victim’ tag and milk it for all it’s worth. In reality, working hard and being educated are the top reasons why white males are at the top of the list. FU.

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