The Asian American and Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day is observed on May 3rd, and it represents how these women will catch up to the wages white men made the year prior.
According to a new analysis by the National Women’s Law Center, an Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander woman starting her career today could lose $120,000 over the next 40 years.
Female Burmese, Cambodian, Hmong, and Nepalese, on the other hand, have the risk of losing an estimated $1 million over the course of their careers if the wage gaps do not shrink.
The study also revealed that Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, and Taiwanese women earned more than white men on average. However, the perception that Asian women earn as much as or more than white men can perpetuate negative stereotypes about Asian people and provide more fuel to the fire for those who want to dismiss anti-Asian racism.
“By focusing just on the top line and not really digging down, we really just make certain communities invisible,” Gaylynn Burroughs, the NWLC’s director of workplace equality, explained. “That harms them because then they can’t be a part of the conversation about what needs to happen in order to help them secure economic opportunities and be able to feel secure.’
The pandemic, according to the research, worsened the existing wage gaps. “The pandemic really showed the gap in terms of who is counted or who is seen by the data because so many women were forced to reduce their hours or forced out of their jobs,” Burroughs said.
The ongoing pandemic not only threatens to deepen the pay disparity faced by AAPI women, but also creates an impact on their families’ financial well-being.