Fight against gender pay gap highlights race and ethnicity as contributing factor

As the conversation for women’s equal rights continues following the Equal Rights Act’s congressional hearing on April 30, the gender and racial pay gap in California still persists and continues to be a subject of discussion.

“League of Legends” developer Riot Games firmly stated on Thursday that employees should go through arbitration with the company over complaints of sexual assault or discrimination, according to the LA Times.

Similarly, The Atlantic stated that Google employees all across the country walked out of their offices in November to protest against discrimination and racism in their company culture.

The California Fair Pay Act, which was written into law in 1949, protects employees from being discriminated against based on their gender. In 2017, California Department of Industrial Relations stated that then Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that included race and ethnicity under the amendment. The law, according to the webpage, “prohibits an employer from paying its employees less than employees of the opposite sex, or of another race, or of another ethnicity for substantially similar work.”

Despite this, women of color are not paid equally. Equal Pay Day, which was on April 2, highlighted the fact that the day will not be recognized until Aug. 22 for African American women, and for Native American and Latina women, it won’t be until Sep. 23 and Nov. 30.

A report conducted by the National Women’s Law Center attributes race and gender as a contributing factor to the differences in wage gaps between different ethnic groups.

“It’s unfair,” said Angel Mande, a 32-years-old mathematics major. “If we have the same job and we’re doing the same thing, then why is my pay a day later?”

Equal Pay Today, a project by non-profit organization Tides, states that African American women earn 61 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts. It also stated that Native American and Latina women earn 58 and 53 cents to every dollar respectively, while white and Asian women earn 77 and 85 cents to the dollar.

Even though women earn their college degrees at a higher rate than men do, especially women of color, they are still stuck in lower paying jobs.

Women of color account for 17 percent of the overall workforce, but make up 33 percent of some of the fastest-growing low-wage jobs, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

“It’s already hard to get a job as a brown woman,” said Ihsan Aboueljoud, a 20-year-old nursing major. “To get paid less than other women is really disheartening, it makes me feel discriminated against.”

This inequality is worse for African-American women, whose portion of the fastest-growing low-wage job is 2.6 times their share of the entire workforce.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District Executive Brandy Bolden said the uneven pay is ultimately unfair to women of color, especially when they have the same education, qualifications and occupations as white women.

“Women are just as qualified if not more qualified in some particular fields,” said Bolden. “It is really unfair to those women who are paid less than men for no reason other than their gender.”

Less than one percent of Silicon Valley tech leadership positions are held by Latin women, and less than 0.5 percent are held by black women, according to a 2018 report by the Center of Gender Equity in Science and Technology.

“The only way to change this is to treat everyone the same,” said Mande. “It doesn’t matter how they look like, just treat everyone the same.”