D.C.’s Pay Gap Between Women Of Color And White Men

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The average woman in D.C. earns less than the average man, but that wage gap varies widely once race is taken into consideration. For example, white women earn 79 cents for every $1 a white, non-Hispanic man earns, but Hispanic women earn 41 cents for every $1 a white, non-Hispanic man earns. These numbers come from the National Women’s Law Center, which released state-specific data on the gender pay gap.

The table below compares how much the average woman earns to how much the average man earns, broken down by race:

Women/Men Black women/white men Hispanic women/white men White women/white men
91 cents/$1 51 cents/$1 41 cents/$1 79 cents/$1

D.C. has one of the lowest overall wage gaps when compared to other states and the national average of 77 cents on the dollar. But comparing D.C. to other states is an apples-and-oranges kind of comparison, so NWLC senior policy analyst Katherine Gallagher Robbins sent us the statistics of nearby cities to get a sense of how the District fares.

The gap in pay between men and women in D.C. is the second smallest among Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, Atlanta and New York City (which came in first, with 93 cents on the dollar). But take race into account, and D.C. doesn’t do so well anymore; of the aforementioned cities, only Atlanta has a larger pay gap between minority women and white men. In the Georgia city, black and Hispanic women make about 42 cents for every $1 white men earn.

Increasing college degrees among black and Hispanic women in D.C. could help make a dent in the wage gap — 23 percent of D.C.’s black women hold at least a bachelor’s degree and 35 percent of the city’s Hispanic women hold such degrees, while 86 percent of white men do, according to census estimates. But even the average college-educated woman in D.C earn 12 cents less than the average college-educated man, according to NWLC.

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Amanda Hess has a fascinating post up at TBD, about two D.C. children (who are affiliated with Lifting Voices, a non-profit) who met with Councilmember Michael A. Brown to share their thoughts on gender roles. Jahisua is 14; he is a Freshman in high school. Shalayla is 11 and she’s in sixth grade at a charter school:

“A man’s role in the neighborhood is to be a provider,” Jahisua told Brown. To Jahisua, that role includes supporting “a home, a job, a relationship with his child’s mother, and an education.” In order to fulfill that role, Jahisua said, the government needed to support men with programs like affordable housing, couple’s counseling, anger management classes, job training, and financial literacy.

But women must conform to different expectations, the students told the councilmember. “Part of a woman’s role is having self-confidence to make good decisions, so she’s not pressured to do bad things, like be immodest,” Shalayala said. “She needs someone to look up to.” In order to support women, Shalayla told Brown, “one thing we need to help women be self-confident is affordable shopping, so she doesn’t spend too much on clothes and so she can afford clothes to cover up well, to not be taken advantage of.” Women could also use motivational speakers, job training classes, and community activities “so they have something to do at different times,” Shalayla said.

Jahisua and Shalayla’s takes on gender were the result of “reflection, interviews with adults, and talks with peers”.