Women make up more than half the population of Miami-Dade County. They also make up half the world's general population, and, above all else, are human beings. We somehow still need to repeat that last part in 2016.
But according to a report released yesterday, women in Miami-Dade are doing objectively worse than their male counterparts, especially women of color.
The report finds that a woman makes 87 cents for every dollar a man makes in the county. When broken down along racial lines, black women make 63 cents for every dollar white women make, and women with professional degrees make a whopping $23,000 less than males with the same level of education.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who pushed the county to compile the report, says it should serve as a serious wake-up call to both the local government and business owners across Miami.
"I think it's really shameful and shocking that African-American and Hispanic women are earning such a small percent of what white women are making," she says. She adds that it's "also shocking" to see women with professional degrees lagging so far behind men with the same credentials. (Women also make up only about a third of county government positions, which means they're underrepresented.)
"Women will typically start at a lower salary than men in their careers, and it gets accentuated with each advancement," she says. "In a typical case, each growth step is bigger for men, so it's not just that women don’t catch up; it’s that the gap keeps growing. This should be a call to action for everyone to examine their possible prejudices."
While Miami-Dade's overall wage gap is roughly equal to national trends, the gap between white women and women of color in South Florida is significantly worse than the national average. According to the Pew Research Center, women of color made between 70 and 75 cents for every dollar white women made. In Miami-Dade, women of color made a full 10 cents less. That adds up quickly.
"The earnings disparity is more marked when race and ethnicity are taken into consideration," the report says.
While the county wage gap has decreased overall since 2000, the female poverty rate for women has increased.
Levine Cava says she requested the report last year after hearing that other cities were commissioning similar studies to make up for the fact that the federal government wasn't adequately studying the issue. Florida International University's Metropolitan Center compiled the study using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, among other sources.
The report also takes a comprehensive look at women's health. Overall, women appear to be much healthier than men in Miami-Dade, with lower rates of almost every disease, with the exception of Alzheimer's. More women also have health insurance in the county. (Bacterial STD cases in women have grown since 1996 but remain lower than state averages.)
Cases of both domestic and sexual violence appear to be decreasing countywide as well.
"Awareness is the first step," Levine Cava says. "Each individual employer should do an audit of their own salary scale. Once they see where the gaps are, they can help close them."
The county will look into investing into more programs that promote women business owners, Levine Cava says. Women lag behind in that area as well, and wealthy male entrepreneurs appear to be driving the pay gap further apart.
"We have to be aggressive about getting women into the kinds of education tracks and careers that do pay a higher salary," the commissioner says, "as well as critically examine why some professions pay so little, like childcare or teaching. Typically speaking, those professions tend to be women-dominated."
From here, new reports will be issued annually. That way, the county can track whether anyone is actually doing anything to help close the wage gap.
Here's the report in full:
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.