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In Texas and Across the Nation, We Must Consider Race in the Fight for Equal Pay

by: Genevieve Cato

Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 03:30 PM CDT

Image Source: Policy Mic

Odds are, you've heard about the gender pay gap. Equal pay has been at the center of the Texas Governor's race, and today on Equal Pay Day progressive groups and Democratic organizations across the country are highlighting the persistence of the gender wage gap. The statistics you are most likely to hear probably go something like this: women make 77 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts.

While this is true, it is also misleading - and not for the reasons Republicans and talking heads on Fox News would have you believe. This statistic does not take into account how race impacts pay disparities across the country and here in Texas, too. When you break down the gender gap based on race, the results are shocking.

More on race and equal pay below the jump.

The statistics most cited in conversations about equal pay - that women make seventy-seven percent of what men do nationally, and seventy-nine percent of their male counterparts here in Texas - don't tell the whole story.

When we're talking about income, race matters. Women of color make less money on average than white women in the United States - and this remains true even after education is considered as a factor. As the American Association of University Women found, race inequality in income among American women persists at all levels of education.

White women make approximately 78 cents for every dollar made by their white male counterparts. The most well-known statistics about equal pay truly only represent the experiences of white women dealing with pay discrimination. Women of color face disparities in relation to their male counterparts, as well, but when considered in relation to white men - the largest group in the workforce - the difference is astounding.

In Texas, white women make an about one cent more per dollar than the national average. Women of color are not so lucky. Latina women make an average of 53 cents per dollar made by white men in America, but that figure is only 45 cents in Texas. Similarly, African American women, who make sixty-four percent of white men's wages nationally, make only 59 cents when compared to their white male counterparts in this state.

As equal pay continues to play a part in statewide elections in Texas and legislative agendas across the country, we ignore the serious disparities at the intersection of race and gender at our own peril. While the statistic of seventy-seven cents may be easier to recall and to place in a soundbite or graphic for the social media masses, the issue of equal pay is much more nuanced. Especially on Equal Pay Day, the increased burden faced by women of color as they fight to end wage discrimination must be acknowledged if the ways race impacts wage inequality will ever be addressed.  

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