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Black women aren’t paid fairly, and that hits harder in an economic crisis

Get the facts about the pay gap for Black women.

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The pay gap

Black women are paid less than white men—and white women

On average, Black women in the U.S. are paid 38% less than white men and 21% less than white women.1

The pay gap by gender and race

How it works

The pay gap starts early

From age 16, Black girls are paid less than boys the same age—and the gap only grows from there.2

The pay gap by age

The pay gap widens for educated Black women

Black women enroll in college at higher rates than men overall and—most notably—at higher rates than white men.3 But the gap is largest for Black women who have bachelor’s degrees and advanced degrees—35% less than white men on average.

The pay gap by education level

Even in the same job, Black women get paid less

Black women are ambitious—they’re just as likely as white men (41%) and more likely than white women (29%) to say they want to become top executives.4 But even in the same job, Black women are paid less than white men. For example, Black women sales professionals earn 53% less than white men managers, on average.5

The pay gap by occupation6

Did you know?

53% of Americans are not aware of the pay gap between Black and white women7

Black women are asking for more

Black women ask for promotions and raises at about the same rates as white women and men—yet the "broken rung" still holds them back at the first critical step up to manager. For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 58 Black women are promoted.8

Share of employees negotiating for promotions and raises9

Why it matters

The average Black women loses out on almost a million dollars

The pay gap is not about a single paycheck. Over the course of the average Black woman’s career, the lost income adds up to almost a million dollars compared to white men.10

Average lost income over a lifetime due to the pay gap11

Did you know?

The pay gap widens the wealth gap: how much Black women are worth or own. The average Black woman’s net worth is less than 1% of the average white man’s.12

Families are on the frontline

More than four in five Black mothers (81%) are breadwinners for their families—meaning their household depends on their paycheck.13 When Black moms are paid less, they have less money for basic family necessities like rent, groceries, and school supplies. Over time, this impacts families’ ability to invest in savings, higher education, or property.

Share of mothers who are breadwinners14

Did you know?

The pay gap is even worse for Black mothers—who are paid 46% less than white fathers.15

The pay gap hits harder in an economic crisis

The current coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated deep, long-standing biases against Black women that are built into our systems. Beyond the pay gap, Black women are shouldering more responsibility at home with less financial security. According to research from LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey, Black women are almost twice as likely as white men to say that they’ve been laid off, furloughed, or had their hours and/or pay reduced because of COVID-19.16

Black women deserve fair pay.
It’s time to close the gap.


  1. Ariane Hegewisch and Adiam Tesfaselassie, “The Gender Wage Gap: 2018; Earnings Differences by Gender, Race, and Ethnicity,” IWPR #C484 (September 2019),
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Weekly and hourly earnings data from the Current Population Survey.” July 2019,
  3. National Center for Education Statistics, “Table 302.60: Percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college, by level of institution and sex and race/ethnicity of the student: 1970 through 2018,” Digest of Education Statistics (2019),
  4. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2019 (October 2019), unpublished data.
  5. The U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement: Table PINC-06: Wage and Salary Workers—People 15 Years Old and Over by Total Wage and Salary Income, Work Experience, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex. Retrieved March 18, 2020, from
  6. Ibid.
  7. LeanIn.Org, “The Pay Gap Is the Tip of the Iceberg for Black Women,” PR Newswire, August 22, 2019,
  8. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2019,
  9. Ibid.
  10. National Women’s Law Center, “The Lifetime Wage Gap, State by State”, (March 2020),
  11. Ibid.
  12. Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap, “The Women’s Wealth Gap: What it Is, Why it Matters, and What Can Be Done About It”, March 2020,
  13. Julie Anderson, “Breadwinner Mothers by Race/Ethnicity and State”, IWPR #Q054, September 8, 2016, Accessed March 18, 2020. Note: Breadwinner mothers are defined as single mothers who head a household or married mothers who generate at least 40 percent of a household’s joint income.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Jasmine Tucker, “Equal Pay for Mothers Is Critical for Families” National Women’s Law Center, (June 2019), Accessed March 19, 2020,
  16. LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey, “The coronavirus is a financial crisis for women,”