One of the most important issues affecting black women is the income gap. It is well-known that women are paid less than men, but it is important to know that women of color are paid much less than white women, making income inequality between black women and white men even greater than publicly understood. According to Pew Research Center, black women earn 65 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. The best ways to close this gap is to change ourselves instead of waiting for a government constructed against us to come to its senses.
The first way to close the income gap between African American women and white men is to increase the number of African-American females into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. STEM careers include computer programmers, application developers, market research analysts, accountants and statisticians. During the Obama administration, the Committee of STEM Education (CoSTEM) created a joint national strategy to invest federal funds in K-12 STEM education, increasing public and youth STEM engagement, improving the STEM experience for undergraduates, reaching demographics underrepresented in STEM fields, and designing better graduate education for the STEM workforce. STEM is proven to have the largest need for employees in the coming years.
These careers, are high paying and allow people to live comfortably. According to a 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, a computer programmer earns an average salary of $79,740 and an entry level software developer earns an average salary of $65,232 according to a Korn Ferry study. In order to get more African-American women to go into the STEM field is to create programs that teach science and math to young black girls. If girls are comfortable with science and math at a young age, they will be less intimidated to try new types of courses and further explore their interests in STEM. STEM is not only important to the immediate decrease of the income gap but it will encourage entrepreneurship in the African-American community leading to economic self-sufficiency as well as more global power. If you have STEM skills you have the power to change anyone’s way of life.
The second way is to provide Financial Literacy classes through free accessible programs. Online financial literacy classes such as Cash Course, High School Financial Planning Program and Banzai teaches high school students and college students money management, budget planning, tuition and student loan repayment. Financial Literacy is important because it will teach black women how to effectively use their money. What is the point of getting a high-paying job if you do not know how to spend your money wisely? Black women should study include Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Economics, Development Economics, and Personal Finance. This would allow black women to understand the economy of our country, the global economy, our purchasing power as a group, and how she should best allocate her money toward bills, investments, and savings.
Support Black-owned Businesses
The third way is to buy from black-owned businesses. From beauty supply shops to huge corporations, most black women spend money on companies that are not black owned while our own businesses are often neglected. According to author Brooke Stephens’ book, Talking Dollars and Making Sense: A Wealth Building Guide for African-Americans. the African American dollar only stays in our community for six hours. This relatively low considering the Asian dollar lasts 28 days in their community and the Jewish dollar lasts 19 days in their community, as reported in Stephens’ book. Buying from black-owned businesses will increase our income dramatically. This will increase our economic power, thus, our political power.
These strategies were inspired from the late Marcus Garvey, the Black Panther Party, and Professor Karen Hunter. All of these people have been painted as radical activists in mainstream media. This is because money is power, and they were trying to spread this message. With our purchasing power, population, and growth in income, we will be able to control the government through lobbying/voting and make the changes for our community that we have been asking for since we were declared citizens of this country.
Samaria is a senior at Riverwood International Charter School, and is an aspiring computer programmer, musician and polyglot.