Home Headlines Fact Sheet: The State of African American Women in the United States

Fact Sheet: The State of African American Women in the United States

Of the top 10 fastest-growing private companies owned by Black entrepreneurs from 2009 to 2012, only 27 percent were owned by Black women.

Economic Security

African American women continue to have higher rates of unemployment than White women and continue to have lower amounts of weekly usual earnings and median wealth compared to their male counterparts and White women. These disparities leave a growing portion of our population more vulnerable to poverty and its implications.

The most current available data show that African American women only made 64 cents to the dollar compared to White, non-Hispanic men in 2010. White women made 78.1 cents to the same dollar.

A study by the American Association of University Women found that African American women made 90 percent of their African American male counterparts’ wages in 2012.

African American women only earned $610 per week, whereas African American men made $666 and White women’s median usual weekly earnings were $718 in the second quarter of 2013.

The unemployment rate of African American women more than 20 years of age increased above 2012 averages and was 181 percent more than that of White women in the second quarter of 2013. African American women had an unemployment rate of 10.5 percent compared to 5.8 percent for White women.

Annual averages for 2012 show that 28 percent of African American women were employed in the service industry as opposed to only 20 percent of White women.

Household data from 2012 found that only 11.9 percent of African American women were in management, business, and financial operations positions. In comparison, women as a whole are employed in these fields at a rate of 41.6 percent.

Married or cohabiting African American households have a median wealth of $31,500 while single African American women have a median wealth of only $100. African American women with children, however, have zero median wealth.

African American women more than doubled their share of workers earning the minimum wage or below from 2007 to 2012.

Among African American households, more than half—53.3 percent—of working wives were breadwinners.

The poverty rate for African American women is 28.6 percent.13 In comparison, the poverty rate of White, non-Hispanic women is 10.8 percent.

The poverty rate of African American lesbian couples is 21.1 percent versus 4.3 percent for White lesbian couples.

African American women are three times more likely than White women to be incarcerated. The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, asserted in 2011 that incarceration particularly affects Latinas and Black women as they are often the primary caregivers for their children and are also disproportionately victimized.

Political Leadership

While African American women have a rich history of leadership in their communities, they are underrepresented in all levels of government.

Of the 98 women in Congress, only 14 are African American women.

Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL), an African American who served from 1993 to 1999, was the first of only two Black women to ever serve in the Senate.

Of the 29 ethnic minority women currently serving in the House of Representatives, 16 are African American women.

In the nation’s 100 largest cities, only one African American woman is currently serving as mayor—Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore.

Currently, 242 African American women serve in state legislatures nationwide, comprising only 13.5 percent of the total population of women state legislators nationwide.

Only 2 out of 73 women serving in statewide elective executive offices are African American women.

State Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) became the first African American woman to serve as speaker of a state house in 2008.


By: Maria Guerra 


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