The Gap is Widening: Why We Need to Pay Careful Attention to Native Women’s Equal Pay Day

Andrea Palmiter, October 1, 2020

October 1 is Native Women’s Equal Pay Day—the date indigenous women, on average, would have to continue working to earn as much as an average white man in the U.S. in 2019. While women from most racial groups saw some (modest) improvement this year, Native Women’s Equal Pay Day is a week later than it was last year.

In general, pay gaps come from 3 key factors: lack of representation in highly-paid industries, lack of representation in senior roles, and disparities in pay among people doing substantially similar work. Which of these is the primary reason indigenous women are underpaid? Hard to say—because there’s a serious lack of data.

In the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data, income data are not available for 23% of indigenous women. Native Americans are excluded from many analyses of pay gaps due to small population sizes and insufficient data. Cutting the 2020 census short could lead to even more missing data on indigenous people for the next 10 years. Analysis of what’s available suggests that Native women are underpaid across occupations and education levels, but we need more information to target root causes.

At Syndio, we know the importance of using data to help promote fairness. For our customers, using software to dig into employee pay helps them identify and fix inequities like those Native women face. Nationally, we know that transparency leads to accountability—so more data is an important first step to reversing the pay gap for Native women.

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