A new poll points to the inequality faced by black women in Pittsburgh News | Pittsburgh

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CP Photo: Jared Wickerham

Rachel Jackson

As Pittsburgh is still on the list of “livable” cities, the reports continue to show the opposite view of the quality of life of its black residents, especially black women. “Pittsburgh Inequality by Gender and Race,” 2019 study. Gender Equality Commissioncalled the city one of the worst in the country for black women, citing unemployment, high poverty, birth defects and mortality rates, including suicide deaths, among other parameters.

“Placing the Voice and Experience of Black Women in the Greater Pittsburgh Region,” a new report from the Black Women’s Policy Agenda, a nonprofit organization in Pittsburgh founded in 2020 that focuses on both advocates and changing job change systems to focus on gender linkages . and race, ”shows similar findings.

“We need people to recognize that these reports and data, these statistics, these experiences, they are real. And we need everyone to be part of changing that. We didn’t do it for ourselves. We did not dig this hole for ourselves. Really? ” says Rachel Jackson, founder and director of BWPA. “We face systemic and institutional racism, discrimination in the workplace, harassment in the workplace, all these things that we do not control, but we need to figure out how to survive inside.”

The BWPA report, which surveyed 287 women in 2019-2020, highlights the experience of black women in Pittsburgh, including topics found in previous studies such as work and work, the pay gap and treatment by health professionals.

The top five areas represented by the study were women from Penn Hills, Pittsburgh, Hill District, North Hills and McCisport, with 35% of respondents aged 35 to 44 and almost half (45.3%) marked as single or never married.

The BWPA says that while black women have historically had the largest share of the job market, they have consistently kept the lowest overall wage level. Only 36% of black women say they hold higher-paying management or professional positions U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisticsbut the report shows that this is not due to a lack of attempts.

Although much has been written about the gender pay gap, its racial disparity has only recently been highlighted: white women earn 78 cents for every dollar for white men and black women only 54 cents for every dollar.

The BWPA study also discusses a phenomenon called severe maternal morbidity, or the rate at which women die in childbirth, finding that black women are more than twice as likely to experience SMM than white women.

What does this mean for black women in Pittsburgh? Survey data show that 18% of respondents are currently unemployed, and all but 2% are looking for a new job. Half of the respondents said they are currently paid less than their white counterparts in the positions they hold, with 90% aware of the racial pay gap. More than half of the study participants also said they were given fewer networking opportunities and fewer advertising opportunities compared to their white counterparts.

The BWPA survey also asked participants whether their mental health and emotional well-being were affected by the vision of headlines in which Pittsburgh was named the least livable for blacks, and 61% of respondents said so. In 2021 Pittsburgh City Newspaper interview three black women those who left or thought about leaving Pittsburgh but reached out even more to express interest in moving out of town, especially after seeing headlines similar to those described.

click to enlarge Rachel Jackson - CP PHOTO: JARRED WICKERHAM

CP Photo: Jared Wickerham

Rachel Jackson

“Not everyone can leave,” Jackson says. “People are stuck here and have to navigate a bit in the waters. And so we wanted these people to know that we are not leaving you in a hurry, we are here, we will work out a solution together. ”

The survey found that the most pressing issues for black women in the city were poverty, mental health, childcare costs, women’s health and reproductive health, and gun violence / public safety. According to the BWPA, black women in Pittsburgh experience poverty more than non-black women, with black women in 85% of US cities coping better than black women in Pittsburgh.

One of the BWPA polls is in favor of raising the minimum wage in the region to $ 15 an hour. Jackson says many still imagine “teenagers working at McDonald’s” when they hear about the minimum wage debate, but says the reality is that many black women and black mothers hold these positions.

“Black women reported that they had to work more than one job to make ends meet,” she said. “Poverty does not mean that people do not work, poverty means that there are things that contribute to the eternal cycle of poverty, such as lack of childcare, lack of living wage, lack of access to paid family medical leave or illness.”

Jackson says she was surprised by “the depth of feelings of black women who are not noticed or heard” in the Greater Pittsburgh region.

“This report had to be made to give a voice to black women,” she says, “to acknowledge their struggles and confirm them as experts in their own experience.”

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