This month, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, affording white women the right to vote. We also underscore the disappointing benchmark of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, which represents how far into 2019 a Black woman must work on average to earn what a white male made in 2018. Shockingly, Equal Pay Day for Native American women and Latinas is still months away, in September and November respectively.
This time of year provides a good opportunity to take stock and reflect. Gender equality, after all, can be quantified.
Black women must work an extra 233 days to simply catch up in pay. Black women in Georgia earn an average of 63 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts. Even when you control for factors of education, experience and location, the pay gap persists. In fact, for all women, the pay gap actually widens as education levels and experience increase.
Sixty-six percent of working-age women in Georgia are employed, and Black women have the highest rate of labor participation among women of all races. Black women are also over-represented in low-wage occupations, including customer service representatives and cashiers. This occupational segregation exacerbates the wage and wealth gap even further. The National Women’s Law Center estimates the lifetime wage and wealth gap for Black women in Georgia exceeds $770,000.
The wage and wealth disparity between men and women is one reason GBPI made the strategic decision to commit resources and expertise to the issue. After all, we cannot achieve our mission of a Georgia where everyone can succeed if we don’t take a hard look at how and why half of Georgia’s population is being held back. At the current pace, women will not see equal pay until 2057. Unfortunately, Georgia women, their families and our economy will continue to lose as these inequities persist.
In 2016, GBPI released a solutions-focused agenda to address the gender wage gap in Georgia. Our Economic Opportunity Agenda for Georgia Women set a new narrative built around the promise and possibility to strengthen the economic power of women. In 2017, we took a close look at the stark wealth divide between Georgia women and men and offered policy solutions to begin to close the wealth gap.
This year, we are ramping up our work even further to support our partners, sisters and allies to shine a light on gender equality. In February, we hosted over 200 women at the Georgia Women’s Lobby Day alongside Working Women 9to5 and the YWCA of Greater Atlanta. In May, we convened experts to discuss new data and recommendations to support women entrepreneurs in partnership with Agnes Scott College.
On a statewide level, we are actively engaged in producing systemic change to uplift Georgia women. For example, we have developed tax policy proposals that would provide a greater benefit to low-wage working women and are supporting the work of a Georgia commission seeking to improve access to capital and contracts for women-owned businesses. Additionally, we partner with women-led organizations and decision-makers from across Georgia that fight for gender equality. Finally, we are excited to announce that GBPI will be co-hosting the national Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap meeting in Atlanta in 2020.
Our commitment to looking at policy issues through a gender lens is strengthening every day because the data demand our attention. The data demand your attention. These times beg for brave truth-telling to face the data and commit ourselves to action. For more information about our women-centered economic policy research and advocacy, please contact Jennifer Owens at email@example.com.
Please join us! GBPI is hosting Women-Powered Prosperity on Sept. 20th featuring speakers on various topics through a gender lens. Featured speakers include the best-selling author and national thought leader on the wealth gap, Mehrsa Baradaran, 9to5 Executive Director Leng Leng Chancey, President of Grantmakers for Southern Progress Tamieka Mosley and Elise Blasingame, Executive Director of Health Mothers, Healthy Babies. To reserve your spot, click here.