Good Example Of Research Paper On Wage Gap

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: America, United States, African American, Workplace, Women, Family, Wage, Social Issues

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2021/02/21

Income inequality among African American women in US

Discrimination was a legalized part of our society for the majority of our nation’s history. Our founding fathers failed to realize that such a problem would not only arise but also threaten our status as a tolerant and supportive culture. It was only until the sixteenth President and a Civil War between the northern and southern states that would effectively end slavery. However, equality was a totally different matter. Former slaves do not get to be desk mates right away. That would take even longer and only after the assassinations of quite a few popular civil rights activists that segregation would finally be done away with. Hence, the problem of inequality has come a long way and yet we are still at the footsteps of becoming tolerant of minority races. The progress that has been made thus far is significant and that can be ascertained by the topic of study today; inequality of wages for African American women. We are making progress and should someday overcome this area of discrimination also.

The wage gap is the term used to denote the difference of wages for a certain job position that the members of the minority and majority have in common. For example, if a store clerk is Caucasian making $456 per month and an African American gets $300 for the same position in the same store, the wage gap is determined to be $156 ($456 - $300). This paper studies the various factors that influence a wage gap among African American women and the other communities/gender in the job market. This study also factors the impact of the wage gap and details how the wage gap would eventually hurt our nation’s economy.

Differential variables

This paper will mull through several aspects that do not point to discrimination and yet contribute to the wage gap for African American women. These are aspects that are usually ignored during a research study since they might discredit some of the wage gap from discrimination and point to a set of choices that are made at the time of employment. For example, a single mom might choose a management position that allows a work from home for most days in a week. This position is almost the equivalent for a part time position; hence, it would pay lower than for the same position for a person who is available at office during all the days. This cannot be called wage gap since the benefits of working from home even out the difference.

History of employment of African American women

The deployment of African American women in the US work force began during the days of slavery. They were farm hands, housekeepers, cooks and any other menial task. Some of them were able to elevate themselves to overseeing positions however; they were still treated lower than Caucasian hired help. Only after the civil war did they develop skills and contribute actively towards the nation’s economy.
Civil WarThe Southern states also known as the Confederacy declared itself independent following the proposal by President Lincoln to abolish slavery. During this time, there were several soldiers and a handful of officers from the African American community along with African American women who served as health support or nurses with the Union Army. This was perhaps the first time the African American community served the federal government along with pay.


During the 1940s and 1950s, there was an exodus of immigrations from Southern States to the Northern States by the African American community carrying the belief that there was a chance for better employment. However, they realized that they were not qualified for most of the positions since they did not have basic education. Although, they were no longer slaves, their access to equal facilities was denied. They were segregated till the end of the civil rights movement. When the recession hit America, this community had to face the brunt of it and thus led to the formation of housing projects. All these would become factors that prevented African American women from attaining an equal wage at this time.
The Caucasian women at this same period had access to better education and a better chance at being placed in corporate positions compared to their African American counterparts. The lack of education among the African American parents of the time also did not help matters. The only help they received were from overburdened and under paid teachers. The situation was almost impossible when they attempted to enter college due to high tuition fees and lack of scholarships.

The 1980s

The 1980s were a time of turmoil for the African American women. This was the time the crack cocaine war hit the streets. Suddenly this option seemed a lot more lucrative than to finish high school and face an uncertain future. However, it was short-lived when law enforcement took an exception with crack cocaine dealers and the jail sentences were steep. The end of this war also marked the end of many bread winners in African American homes. In a short three years, African American women were beginning to feel the burden of home making. This situation forced most of them to head back to school and complete their high school graduations. The Federal government was the first to hire a diverse workforce during this period and this created the opportunity for African American women to take up public sector jobs (Pettit and Ewert, “Employment Gains and Wage Declines: The Erosion of Black Women’s Relative Wages Since 1980”).

Factors responsible for income inequality among African American women

There are several factors that influenced the income inequality among African American women; some were beyond discrimination. This section studies each of these areas in detail.


All American cities had their populations of the African American community and the northern states had an influx of former slaves since the time of the Civil War. This increased the population of the community significantly. During the great depression, Caucasian families were losing homes, access to power and living on unemployment benefits. The plight of African Americans was even worse. The women at this time found it difficult to even get the menial jobs that were usually reserved for African Americans during this period.

Political Considerations

The Ronald Regan administration passed two legislations that practically impaired the career prospects of African American women. During the Regan administration, the educational level of the African American women was almost double of what it was during the previous decade. They had also been beneficiaries of several programs that contributed stable sustenance for the African American community. The policy of college grants that were linked to public sector jobs that allowed several African American women to take up was abruptly cancelled. This move greatly reduced the after-college prospects for the African American women when they were looking to build their qualifications up to profoundly contribute towards the American economy. The second legislature fared even worse and cut off the feet from underneath when the programs open for low income families ceased to exist (Dozier, “Accumulating Disadvantage: The Growth in the Black-White Wage Gap Among Women”). This meant there was now a mandatory choice that African American faced; food on the table or college education?
In addition, there were apprehensions that there would be a slew of job cuts from the public sector whose lower rung employees were predominantly African American women. The desperation for suitable employment drove several thousand African American women into private firms that paid them $0.54 for every dollar that was paid to Caucasian men and comparatively lower even to Caucasian women who earned $0.77 for every dollar paid to Caucasian men.

Selective Employment

The selection of jobs usually takes up for a large chunk of the wage difference. After all, there is an enormous difference between taking up a job in a bank as a teller and taking up a position as a store cashier. African American women are also bound by compulsions that force them to take up low income jobs. They were unable to take up positions that required employees to forward expenses and then claim them; for example sales or marketing positions. They were unable to avail credit to buy cars and had to rely on the limitations of public transport. These factors combined with the inability to afford tuition fees for technical courses in college began to deepen the gap in the income bracket (Wilson, “Women’s Mobility into Upper-Tier Occupations. Do Determinants and Timing Differ by Race?”).
Jobs in teaching, health care and law enforcement were sought after. The income from these jobs was much lower than that of technical positions. This narrows the gap for up to 60%.

Family Structure

The structure of African American families was also chief contributors for the lower income quotient. The emergence of the single mother concept outweighed the family structure that had both parents in the house. The concept of a single mom is the sign of compromise and discrimination. Private business houses that employed single moms allowed a few allowances including slightly reduced hours and a significantly reduced pay. Although it seems unfair, it could always be justified under the risk that the company runs whenever a single mom is hired. A child falling sick could mean loss of production which might not be the case when there are two parents in the house. The higher risk of another pregnancy could also not be ignored (Newsome and Dodoo, “Reversal of Fortune: Explaining the Decline in Black Women's Earnings”).
The companies always justified this by stating that men do not have such limitations and that Caucasian women always have a stable family structure that supports them during shortcomings. Neither of which was available to the African American single mom. According to Mellody Hobson, the investment magnate, a single mom can seldom meet ends and often has to live with the phones being disconnected or power being disconnected or even facing the chance to be evicted was fair game (Hobson, "Color blind or color brave?").


Although there are several factors that can be analyzed and justified to cover for the wage gap, discrimination is always persistent. It lingers in public offices and private companies. Richard Lewis was a highly decorated police officer and among the few to win the Medal of Honor twice; yet the twenty year veteran never earned a class I detective badge that most of his Caucasian juniors managed with significantly lesser achievements. Similarly, several thousand African American women who serve in public schools, parks, post offices, police departments and even political parties can never attain their potential on the job due to discrimination (Chandler and Young, “African-American Women Hit Hardest by Income Inequality”).

Implications of the wage gap

Today, there is popular belief that the wage gap is overrated and fought by African American women as a sign of denial to the progress made in terms of liberty and progress by the entire African American community however; there are far reaching complications. We are denying ourselves a healthy economy and reduced crime rates by encouraging discrimination. This section details the short term and long term implications that are borne by the children whose future is in jeopardy because we would not take up the issue of racial and gender discrimination with courage.

Short term implications

The short term implications of wage gap due to racial discrimination among women accounts for an estimated 821 times to put food on the table for just one year. While the significance of this might not be felt in a Caucasian home that has no socio-economic barriers that restrict the adults from taking up job occupations that prevent being employed for low income; the scenario is a devastation for any African American home especially with young children. There are several implications pertaining to malnutrition and even growth deficiencies in children that are contributed to the wage gap.

Long term implications

The long term implications not only affect the quality of life available for African American women and children, it will also set hurdles for the children to overcome. These hurdles will invite the same set of background problems that prevented African American women in the 1980s from making their presence on the job front. These implications include the denial of the opportunity to feed a family of four for thirty-seven years, pay for seven college degrees, the purchase of two family homes, the equivalent to the purchase of fourteen family type cars or to pay for the retirement of an African American woman once she leaves the workforce (Kerby, “How Pay Inequity Hurts Women of Color”).


The cost of prejudice is higher than justifying our egos. We are feeding to the same mentality that allowed Somali children to starve, the same insensitivity that was expressed by terrorists who mowed down more than two hundred school students in Pakistan, the lack of decency that was displayed by Timothy McVeigh when he blew up the federal building in Oklahoma along with the toddlers in the day care centre.

List of Works Consulted

Chandler, Jamie and Young, Skylar. African-American Women Hit Hardest By Income Inequality. January 28, 2014. Web. April 14, 2015.
Dozier, Raine. Accumulating Disadvantage: The Growth in the Black-White Wage Gap Among Women. March 21, 2010. Web. April 14, 2015.
Hobson, Mellody. “Color blind or color brave?." Online video clip. Ted Talks. Ted Talks, March 2014. Web. April 14, 2015.
Kerby, Sophia. How Pay Inequity Hurts Women of Color. April 9, 2014. Web. April 14, 2015.
Newsome, Yvonne D. and Dodoo, F. Nii-Amoo. Reversal of Fortune: Explaining the Decline in Black Women's Earnings. August 2002. Web. April 14, 2015.
Pettit, Becky and Ewert, Stephanie. Employment Gains and Wage Declines: The Erosion of Black Women’s Relative Wages Since 1980. August, 2009. Web. April 14, 2015.
Wilson, George. Women’s Mobility into Upper-Tier Occupations. Do Determinants and Timing Differ by Race? January 2012. Web. April 14, 2015.

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