Breadwinning mothers, especially Black women, continue to be the norm today.
New research from the Pew Research Center indicates that 1in 4 Black wives out-earn their husbands. This study, which sparks a drastic change in gender norms, comes 50 years after men were considered the sole breadwinners in 85% of opposite-sex marriages.
Today, Black women are making intentional choices when it comes to getting their bags. They are pursuing higher education at higher rates than any other group, including white women, Asian women, and white men. But that’s not all. Black women are also choosing to have fewer children or none at all.
A degree is often seen as an opportunity to scale your career and paycheck. For Black women, who tend to shoulder a lot of their households’ financial burden, earning higher levels of education reflects how much their wages are heavily relied on.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Black women earned 134,435 bachelor’s degrees out of 206,527 Black college graduates in the 2020-2021 academic year. Black men, on the other hand, earned 72,092. This is no easy feat. Education does not shield women of color from the pay or wealth gap. Black women are far more likely to pay for school with federal student loans than white women, as shown in AAUW research.
For instance, BLACK ENTERPRISE reported on a rare situation highlighting efforts and factors directly affecting a Black woman’s drive to pursue higher education. Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, who helps more women gain access to capital through her platform, EnrichHER, once raised over $600,000 to fund her college education. She became motivated at 15 when she witnessed her mom working multiple jobs to ensure she had everything she needed. The Atlanta-based entrepreneur knew she had to create a strategic plan for college.
Using her crowdfunding skills, Novellus paid for 11 years of higher education. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In addition, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management Economics from the same university, a Master of Science in Information Technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and then a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering, with a minor in Finance, from The George Washington University. Now, she’s investing in other women.
According to Pew’s survey, Black women are more likely than any other ethnic group to be in marriages, which can financially benefit Black families. In ideal egalitarian marriages, husbands and wives share wage-earning and family responsibilities equally.
However, Black wives with bachelor’s or advanced degrees still earn approximately $50,599, which is almost equivalent to what white, non-Hispanic men make with some college education, but no completed degree. On average, Black women were paid 58% of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2020. As a result, they continue to face a wider-than-average pay gap even though they participate in the workforce at much higher rates than most other women.
Dianne M. Stewart, professor of Religion and African American Studies at Emory University, asserts that there is a likely chance that Black women will make more money than the man they are marrying based on their education status and job skills, per The Sacramento Observer.
“It’s fairly likely that millions of Black women are marrying Black men who either have a high school degree or an associate degree. Therefore, many millions of Black women with college degrees might be in skilled labor jobs,” Stewart said.
Still, Black women are facing unique challenges in the fight for equity pay, but they can’t afford to keep losing.