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Black women are now America's most educated group.

They're the most educated group in America, but they're still grossly underpaid.

This month, there was some pretty great news for black women.

Celebrate with Michelle Obama!


Black women are now the most educated group in America, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

A higher percentage of black women — 9.7% to be exact — are enrolled in college than any other racial or gender group, including white men, white women, and Asian women.

It's the first time in American history that black women are leading the way in education.

And it's kind of incredible for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that education reduces poverty, promotes gender equality, and helps to lessen the spread of various health issues.

So just what are these educated black women doing?

The number of degrees conferred to black students has steadily been on the rise for two decades. And in the U.S. between 2009 and 2010, black women specifically earned 68% of associate’s degrees awarded to African-American students.

Of black students, also earned 66% of bachelor’s degrees, 71% of master’s degrees, and 65% of all doctorate degrees, too.

So yeah, black women are killing it.

#BlackGirlMagic is totally real. GIF from Apple.

But here's a kicker: While black women are the most educated group in America, they're still making substantially less than their white male counterparts.

About $20,000 less per year, to be exact — a ridiculously large gap.


Oprah says, "Not on my watch." GIF via "Oprah."

Unfortunately, this isn't super surprising. Every other demographic in America makes less than white men, too, but black women are on the significantly lower end of the wage bar.

What does this wage gap look like?

On average, an American woman earns about $39,000 per year compared with the $50,000 an average man earns.

If a woman were to work for 40 years, this would add up to a lifetime of around $430,000 of wages lost. For black women, that number jumps to almost $878,000 in wages lost overtime a lifetime.


Absolutely not.

When any demographic is underpaid or understaffed, the effects are pervasive, and we can see that firsthand with black women.

While the numbers of black women in higher-paying jobs are steadily increasing, black women are still largely underrepresented at the top of top-paying industries like engineering and computing. Of the estimated 24% of women in the STEM workforce, a mere 2% of black women are represented in that group.

Black women not having a seat at the high-wage table can be particularly damaging for their families, too.

More than 50% of black women with children are either the sole or primary breadwinners of families, compared with 40% of all of women.

But currently, 38% of black children live below the poverty line, a rate that has remained steady over the past few years while other groups have decreased.

Equalizing wages could make a huge difference in the lives of African-American children by giving them access to better schools, healthier lives, and increased opportunities.

As Viola Davis stated in her historic Emmy’s speech:

"The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is opportunity."

Viola Davis teaching us all how to live at the 67th annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Image by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

The good news is, black women don’t back down from a challenge.

Right now, black women are voting at higher rates than the rest of the population, starting more businesses than any other groups of women, and creating opportunities for other black women to achieve even more.

They have been doing to work to improve minority lives for years.


Yes, girl. GIF from "Sister Act 2."

And when minorities are given a seat at the table of opportunity, we create a society that is strong, more understanding, and increasingly innovative.

This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

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