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Gender pay gap is a struggle for black women in higher education | READER COMMENTARY

An aerial view of the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland. File. A recent survey of state salaries found many top earners at the school but few of them women.
An aerial view of the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland. File. A recent survey of state salaries found many top earners at the school but few of them women.(G Fiume/Getty Images)

If we look at the historical context of how this country was founded, the pay gap in Maryland’s higher education comes as no surprise, especially for black people (“When men take home 94% of the top 50 Maryland state government salaries, you’ve got a diversity problem," Feb. 19). As a black woman, I’m doubly aware of the systemic gender and racial issues in America. In education, women have made incredible contributions, yet we are still underrepresented in full-time faculty positions and administrative roles in higher education. This is particularly true for black women.

As an educator and organizer, in my liberation work, I use my community organizing work to make peace with the dissonance I experience daily. Historically, black women have always relied on community organizing and collective work to uplift and support the community despite the injustices and the inequities we face. I have been constantly overlooked for positions that I am well qualified for. It’s exploitive to be a professional with a master’s degree and over eight years of teaching experience paid as an hourly worker with no benefits and no job security. These discrepancies are because I am black and I am a woman. That’s a double negative that rarely equates to positive consideration in this system despite the lip service towards diversity. And yet, I organize.

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Fortunately, professors across Maryland are realizing that we must come together to make a change that supports all of us. Together, we can mitigate employer biases with hiring practices, ensuring all workers can be equitably considered for positions as well as advocate for improved working and learning conditions. Together, we can shift power. Unions provide a boost to women regardless of their race or ethnicity. According to the Economic Policy Institute, wages for women in unions are 23 percent higher than for non-unionized women.

The gender wage gap is significantly smaller among both white and black unionized workers than their non-union counterparts. Change cannot happen until we make it happen, together. Union work is liberation work!

LaToya Robinson

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

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