Caucasian and African women are segregated by the differences in their salary and education. With the persistence of racial-based wage and education gaps in modern society, the status and role of colored women, specifically those from the African descent, remain discriminated due to the prevalence of indissoluble racial and gender stereotypes. Although the philosophy of racial and gender equality has, in essence, created “equal education opportunities” for all females, the provision of racial equity has yet to be fully realized. In reality, however, the education and economic gap between Caucasian and African women evinces that the school and professional systems, specifically in the United States, are “separate and unequal” (Cook, 2015). The following presents a discussion comparing and contrasting the differences in the salary and education of Caucasian and African women in the United States.
The disparity in education for Caucasian and African women is caused by social inequality and unequal access to education. In the case of African women, they belong to the minority group that has access to schools with fewer resources (Clotfelter, Ladd, & Vigdor, 2004) and “are less likely to have access to quality and rigorous curricula and instruction that will place them on track to pursue postsecondary education and high-wage careers” (U.S. Department of Civil Rights, 2014). Furthermore, due to the lack of facilities in these underprivileged schools and racial stereotypes, African girls typically receive less support from teachers to engage in physical activity compared to Caucasian girls (Grieser et al., 2008). The discriminated treatment in schools in the form of discipline sanctions remains prevalent and controversial. According to Blake, Butler, and Smith (2015), in the state of Ohio, 16.3 out of 100 African female students received out-of school suspension for disruptive behavior in 2012–2013 compared to 1.5 for Caucasian female students. In addition, their data showed that 10 out of 100 African female students received in-school suspension for disobedience compared to 1.9 Caucasian females. The biasness encountered by African women during their school life is aptly summarized by the following observation: “They have different rules for us [African American girls] White girls can wear anything and get away with it, but they will send us to the dean for wearing the same thing” (Archer-Banks, & Behar-Horenstein, 2012).
Despite the challenges in school, higher education has narrowed somewhat the disparate gaps between African and Caucasian women, thus increasing, to a certain extent, the living standards of African women in general. The access to higher education has helped in alleviating the education and economics of the African society, and African women have, to some degree, closed the gap between them and their Caucasian counterpart. Between 2002–2003 and 2012–2013, there was a 47% increase in African students being conferred post-secondary degrees, of which 65% were African women. In comparison, only 37% Caucasian students were conferred post-secondary degrees, of which 56% were Caucasian women (U.S. Department of Education, 2016).
The average African woman earns much less than her Caucasian counterpart. Irrespective of African women’s progress in education, they are still being paid much lesser than Caucasian women. According to Patten (2016), the median hourly earnings of African women are USD 23 per hour compared to USD 25 for Caucasian women. She further highlighted that for the median hourly earnings as a percent of Caucasian men’s earnings, Caucasian women earned the equivalent of 82%, whereas African women only earned 65%. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Labor (2017) indicates that the median weekly earnings of African women in 2016 was USD 641 as opposed to the median weekly earnings of USD 766 for Caucasian women. The widening margin in salary between African and Caucasian women is evinced as both of their salaries were almost equal in the mid-1970s—the average inflation adjusted wage for Africans in general was USD 16.02 compared to USD 19.62 for Caucasians (Vega, 2016) with the average hourly wage gap of 6%; however, in 2015, the wage gap had increased to 19% between the wages of African and Caucasian women (Wilson & Rodgers, 2016). The detailed study by Wilson and Rodgers (2016) showed that in 2000, the African–Caucasian women wage gap for experienced workers was 8.2% and for new entrants at 4.1%. However, in 2014, the wage gap increased to 12.6% for experienced workers and 10.8% for new entrants, respectively.
Discrimination at workplace results in lower participation of African women in leadership roles. Access to higher paying jobs in the public or corporate sectors is deterred due to existing discrimination, whether gender or racial bias, at the workplace for African women. In 2014, 14% of the top managerial positions were held by women, of which 88% were Caucasian women. African women, on the other hand, comprised only 5.4% of the total number (The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, 2015). The data is contradictory to the research by Girl Scout Research Institute (2013) wherein the findings indicate that 53.4% percent of African American girls surveyed expressed a desire to be leaders compared to 34% of their Caucasian counterparts.
In conclusion, there are marked differences between the education and economic (salary) attainments of African and Caucasian women. The former group has to face stronger societal discrimination and racial stereotypes, which have grossly affected their level of education and economic achievements. Their equity in education and economy remains below those of their Caucasian counterpart.
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