Being from a family with two college educated parents, I grew up understanding that attending college and earning a degree was just a normal part of life. Further, the idea of going on to receive a second and third degree were both strongly encouraged. That might seem College-Drop-Out-Kanye-West of me, but at least I have my degrees to keep me warm…right?
Throughout all my application processes my parents and I talked about the right school, scholarship options, choice in major and concentration, career paths, and financial planning for the future. The one thing my parents never talked about was the reality that I would be more likely to make less than my male counterparts simply because I had two X Chromosomes. Moreover, I’d make less than other women in my field simply because my permanent tan survived as the dominate gene. In other words, I'd be valued less because I was a woman of color. The reality then and the reality now, is no matter how hard I worked, how many awards or honors colleges I graduated from, my chromosome make-up was destined to negotiate my salary for me.
I learned later in life that my mother always made more than 50% less than my father; even at a Historical Black College and significantly less than her male counterparts. I look back and wonder why my parents, particularly my mother, never discussed this disparity with me. Why did she decide to save me the discouragement? Would I have worked less? Fought harder? Or would I have just given up? Well, in honor of Equal Pay Day, I’m going to start this discussion with my fellow Black and Nerdy.
FACT: On average, women in the United States are paid just 23 cents less for every dollar paid to men; for those artistic nerds that is 77 cents on the dollar.
FACT: African American women (Blerds included), in the United States are paid just 70 cents for every dollar paid to men and just 64 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. To put that in perspective, the conversation rate of our paychecks is similar to that of USA Dollar conversation of the UK Pound.
FACT: Southern States are more likely to under pay women including my home state, Louisiana where women of color bring home just 55 Cents for every dollar paid to men.
With nearly 40 percent of all households headed by African American women living below the poverty level this is simply unacceptable. When you consider households headed by African American women with a child under five years of age, the percentage increases from 40 to more than 50 percent living in poverty. This begs the question, why aren't Blerds, self-proclaimed bastions of intellectual thought and defenders of individuality screaming at the top of our lungs about this injustice?
The fact is, we aren't having enough discussions about equal pay or if we are, it's once a year when legislation is introduced to level the playing field. Very rarely do we discuss the social obligation that employers have to pay fair wages to women. Even rarer, is women taking the time to reach out this Senators and Congressman to hold them accountable for not passing laws to protect women and families against this unfair labor practice.
Well, now is the time... Where we have fought to be considered equals in male dominated fields as mathematicians, scientists, tattoo artists, gamers, graphic designers, engineers, sci-fi writers, consultants, policy wonks and software developers why are we not also fighting for equal pay?
"Resident Social-Cause BGN"
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National Women's Law Center
The Department of Labor: Gender and Pay Equality 4.12.13