Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ
In their coverage of the gender pay gap during the week leading up to Equal Pay Day, print versions of three major newspapers largely failed to note that wage disparities are particularly acute for women of color and transgender women. Only one-third of the coverage pointed out that the pay gap is larger for women of color, and the coverage omitted any discussion of the pay gap faced by LGBT women.
Equal Pay Day, which fell this year on April 12, marks how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned the previous year. Studies show that women make significantly less money than men over their lifetimes -- on average, a woman in the United States in 2014 made 79 cents for every dollar a man made -- but the gap can increase when other variables are factored in. Research from the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress demonstrates that disparities are larger for women of color. On average, African-American women earn 60 percent as much as their white male counterparts, and Latinas earn just 55 percent of what white men earn. A recent report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that location, age, and education level all factor into pay disparity, and that at every level of academic achievement, women earn less than men.
Media Matters analyzed pay gap coverage during the week prior to Equal Pay Day in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, and found that the Post and the Journal each published two articles in print about the gender pay gap, and in each paper only once mentioned race and ethnicity as a factor in pay disparities. The Times, which also printed two articles about the pay gap, failed to mention race at all. The impact of the wage gap on LGBT women was not addressed at all in the analyzed coverage.
LGBT women are invisible in coverage of the wage gap, despite the specific impact pay disparity has on them. Experts say that LGBT people -- specifically transgender women -- are more likely to be discriminated against in the workforce and, according to Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, policy advisor for the National Center for Transgender Equality, the issues surrounding wage disparity "are heightened for transgender people."
Media Matters analyzed pay disparity-related coverage from April 5 to April 12 -- the week leading up to and including Equal Pay Day -- on the print editions of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post using the following search terms on Nexis and Factiva: "equal pay," "wage gap," "gender pay gap," "pay discrimination," "Latinas," "Hispanic," "Black," "women of color," "LGBT," "GLBT," "LGBTQ," "trans," "transgender," "gay," "lesbian," and "queer." Articles with incidental mentions of the wage gap or of pay discrimination outside of the United States were excluded.