It’s 2017 and AAPI Women Still Aren’t Getting Equal Pay for Equal Work | #AAPIEqualPay

Screen capture of video for AAPI Equal Pay Day. (Photo credit: NAPAWF)

Today is AAPI Equal Pay Day, a day to highlight the persistent wage gap experienced by AAPI women, transgender, and non-binary people. In fact, even though the AAPI community is the fastest-growing racial community in America, AAPI women continue to make only 85 cents to the dollar a White, non-Hispanic man of comparable education earns.

Over the course of a lifetime, that can translate to nearly half a million dollars in lost income for AAPI women compared to White male co-workers. In fact, an AAPI woman has to achieve a master’s degree or higher just to be paid the same wage as a White man who has earned a bachelor’s degree. Alternatively, AAPI women must work on average an extra two months to receive the same annual income as a White man.

Average annual income for Asian American women and White men, compared to educational attainment. (Photo credit: NWLC)

When examining the in-race wage gap, the statistics are even more dire. Within the AAPI community, AAPI women make only about 80 cents to the dollar AAPI men earn. This translates to the largest in-group gender wage gap across all races or ethnicities.

An infographic about AAPI Equal Pay Day created by NAPAWF.

The wage gap for AAPI women stands firm regardless of profession. The National Women’s Law Center reports that Asian American women labourers earn 76 cents to the dollar of their White male co-workers. Asian American women customer service representatives earn 84 cents to the dollar. Asian American women physicians and surgeons earn 54 cents to the dollar.

Disaggregation of wage data reveal an even more complex picture, with women of some AAPI ethnic groups earning as little as 38 cents to the dollar paid to a White man.

Indeed, these statistics remind us that the Model Minority Myth obscures very real, and very complicated, income disparities within the AAPI community. While the average household income for the AAPIs is higher than that of Whites, the poverty rate is also significantly higher — and rising — among AAPIs. In particular, senior poverty rates are higher for AAPI elders compared to the overall population. For older AAPI women, this is due at least in part to the wage gap widening with age: among women aged 45-64, AAPI women earn 68 cents to the dollar White men earn. For women aged 65+, the wage gap falls by another 15 cents. Meanwhile, AAPI transgender people have a poverty rate six times that of the general AAPI community, with 18% reporting a household income of less than $10,000 a year.

Asian American wages, by ethnicity, as compared to White, non-Hispanic men. (Photo credit: AAUW)

According to a recent election even poll, 87% of Asian Americans believe that women should receive equal pay for equal work. It’s time for us to demand equal pay for AAPI women, transgender and non-binary people, and for all people of colour. It’s time we demand passage of federal laws for equal pay, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act. We must also work to protect the Affordable Care Act, which provides healthcare coverage to 1 in 15 Asian Americans, many of whom are low-income, immigrant women.

Today, AAPI groups such as the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) are hosting a Twitterstorm at #AAPIEqualPay. Join the conversation now and check out this simple guide to learn more.

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  • Observer157

    An important topic yes. The AAUW document says nothing about this being the “the largest in-group gender wage gap across all races or ethnicities. ” This is just more reappropriate missing the boat on this important topic (posting after the association already covered it), then throwing a random unsolicited dig at Asian American males in the article for no reason. Actually wait – the reason is clear.

  • The in-group wage gap being largest for AAPI is well-known and well-reported. However, you are right that the AAUW infographic linked in this post has half its y-axis labels missing which obscures the cross-racial comparison — only Latino and AIAN are labeled, and the other two columns which show data for Black and Asian are unlabeled which I didn’t notice when I linked.

    But you can also find data about the in-group wage gap being highest for AAPI throughout discussion of the wage gap, as it is a widely reported statistic.

    Data here:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/06/why-indian-american-women-make-more-money-than-white-guys/?utm_term=.110d0f2235f3

    https://napawf.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/EPD_Fact-Sheet_FINAL.pdf (bullet point and references)

    http://bizeconreporting.journalism.cuny.edu/2014/05/23/gender-pay-gap-widest-among-asian-americans/

    It is important to consider both comparisons (vs white men and vs in-group) when thinking about the wage gap because they reveal different things. This is best illustrated with Indian American women, who earn slightly more in annual income than white men. This might lead someone to think they experience no wage gap. However, when compared to Indian American men, Indian American women earn roughly 60 cents to the dollar indicating a clear wage gap due to gender. Meanwhile, Hmong women make far less than white men, but their in-group wage gap is slight compared to Hmong American men. Racism and sexism are clearly intersecting — and intersecting differently — for AAPI women of different subgroups. So, to fully understand how racism and sexism affects the wages paid to AAPI women of all ethnicities (and I ndeed all WOC), one cannot use only one type of measurement alone; we need to think about both.

    It is silly and unserious to read misandrist motive into a straightforward and comprehensive presentation of wage gap data reporting on AAPI women. Frankly, I think this reveals more about your biases than mine.

  • MelaninManson

    It’s incredibly telling when someone reads a post on the gendered implications of the Asian American pay gap as an attack on Asian American men. In essence, you suggest Observer157 that it’s not possible to document how Asian American women experience this society without interpreting those experiences as hostile to Asian American men.

    That speaks volumes about your failure to listen to Asian American women. The data is clearly presented above; take another look. The author is not attacking Asian American men; she’s speaking up for Asian American women.

    Be mature enough to grasp the difference.

  • Observer157

    On a day that should have been about agreeing Asian American women should be getting higher pay, you couldn’t help yourself but throw in a jab about Asian American males. Not surprising given your track record

  • MelaninManson

    Again, another weak sauce statement designed not to deal with the data at hand, but to antagonize someone who supports Asian American women, without attacking Asian American men in any sense.

    Observer157, perhaps you should re-read the post above, if for no other reason than to develop a meaningful counter-argument, should you locate one.