U.S. NewsHuman Rights


Studies Show Despite Bias, Black Women Continue To Thrive Over Time

Some analysts say the reason black women have made such strides comes down to the heavy reliance black families have historically placed on women.
Posted at 10:04 AM, Mar 28, 2018

recent study lays out some of the disturbing realities of racism for black boys in America. By tracing the lives of millions of American kids, the Equality of Opportunity Project found black boys are the least likely of any group to climb out of poverty while also being the most likely to fall into it.

But the study also substantiated the continued rise of black women — despite them dealing with similar discriminatory circumstances.

According to the Equality of Opportunity Project, black girls grow up to earn slightly more than white women if you control for parental income.

Also, as part of an overall trend of more women going to college, black women have higher college attendance rates than white men — conditional on parental income.

In an interview with NPR, one of the researchers of the study pointed to disproportionate incarceration rates for black men as one of the reasons why black women are outpacing their male counterparts.

"Even for black sons whose families make roughly a million dollars a year, they are equally likely to be incarcerated as - the white son of a family that makes $40,000 a year," Harvard economics professor Nathaniel Hendren said.

While black women are twice as likely to go to jail as white women, black men make up 33 percent of the sentenced prison population in America. 

Some analysts say the reason black women have made such large strides in workforce participation and education comes down to the heavy reliance black families have historically placed on women.

More than 80 percent of black mothers are the breadwinners in their household — that's compared to 50 percent of white mothers. Not only that, but there are more black women in the workforce (62 percent) than women of any other racial group.

Meanwhile the number of businesses owned by black women increased by 178 percent between 2002 and 2012, the largest increase among all races of women and men. During roughly that same time (2004-2014), the share of black women with a bachelor's degree or higher increased by nearly a quarter.

All of this is underscored by social inequities like discipline in school and the pay gap. Advocacy groups suggest long-term policy changes to things like health coverage, paid leave, earnings and political participation are a few ways to continue to push black women forward without stifling the progress that has already been made.