One hundred years after women secured the right to vote, wage inequality remains prevalent in the United States. The gender wage gap, or pay inequity based solely on sex, arguably, is a measure of the current failure of full and equal participation by women in American society. The gender wage gap exists despite federal legislation designed to further wage equality. In fact, a difference as small as two cents over a lifetime costs a woman approximately $80,000. Currently, it is predicted that for a majority of white women, the pay parity will be attained between 2059–2069. However, Black women and other women of color will not reach pay equity before 2369.
Most of society is oblivious to the fact that wage inequality is pervasive for Black women. The intersectionality framework recognized the failure of the law to account for how race and gender combine to marginalize Black women. When combined, racial and gender discrimination lead to economic, social, and political ramifications, any and all of which impact Black women differently.
As presently enacted, neither of the two federal statutes that prohibit gender pay inequities—the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”)—adequately address the racialized wage gender gap. Nor do they differentiate the extent of the discrimination that Black women and other women of color experience based on their multiple identities of gender and race. Most importantly, neither corrects the market imperfections that sustain racialized gender inequality. Law has failed to expose and sufficiently regulate the structural and systemic bias that sustains racialized gendered marginalization and socio-economic inequalities. The central question is: what allows this systemic inequity to self-perpetuate?