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Close the Gap: 5 Industries Black Women Should Break Into Today

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Today Is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. With all women making up 50% of the workforce, but taking the majority of all low-paying jobs, there are still plenty of reasons as to why Black women would branch off for a day of awareness, outside of the “we are all one woman” bunch. One, for instance, is that Black women are the only demographic not gaining jobs despite consistently working more often than White women and Hispanic women since studies began in the 1970s (and we can imagine even further back to far-reaching examples such as slavery.)

So, not only are Black women the most reliable workers and the most educated demographic in this country, they’re also getting hired the least and are among the least paid for it. With statistics stacked against you like this, sometimes all you can do is speak up— and experiment. Based upon research, studies, and an additional two cents of my own opinion, here are 5 jobs Black women should get into to shake up their bank accounts and rattle a few industries, too.

1. Managers of Police and Detectives

Although I’m not one of those “change it from the inside” types, it does hold true that if places so linked to law and order actually had Black women running it, it’s possible that issues around police brutality, corruption, and negligence against Black men and women could decrease drastically. The field is only made up of 13% of women, but you could be banking over a $60,000 check per year. Not to mention— this is about managing, not first-hand response. So, you’ll have an influence on the culture more than just the outcome.

2. Construction Workers

Women don’t have to be pigeonholed to front desks. The world is ever-growing and the pace at which we keep up is slowing down. If you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty and create something that you can claim years later, construction is a pretty viable choice. Not to mention, the industry is the most equal in terms of pay, with women earning approx. 93.4% of what men make, in comparison to the 82% average of men’s wages in all professional industries overall. You’d be getting more bang for your buck. Sheet metal workers are down to 5.2% of women workers which could give you an advantage, but there are more choices from making $56,000-a-year as a Boilermaker to $50,000-a-year as an Electrician, and so on and so forth. The option is there, you only need to reach for it.

3. Pilots and Flight Engineers

Most of us know about the Tuskegee Airmen, but the accomplishments of Black women are not to be forgotten, either. Bessie Coleman became the first Black woman to obtain a pilot’s license in 1921, and decades later Jill Brown-Hiltz became the first Black woman hired to pilot a major airline in 1978. So why is the industry only comprised of 7.2% women today? Pilots make over $72,000/year. Black women, in particular, would make a great addition to this field because it's clear they're in need of diversity in the sky.

4.Chefs And Head Cooks

Over 70% of all waiters and waitresses are women. But who’s behind the Gordon Ramsay door? Primarily more Gordon Ramsays. Women only make up 21.4% of Chefs and Head Cooks in the food industry, which is pretty weird given how patriarchy likes to tell us to stay at home and cook. To begin, enrollment into culinary arts by Black men and women remain on the rise, but Black chefs and cooks remain underrepresented in the actual workforce. That could be due to a lack of opportunity, lack of mentors, and lack of role models. I advocate for Black people, especially Black women, to get into the culinary field because there are so many possibilities for growth.

5. STEM Experts

Not only is STEM among the most fast-growing fields in America — projected to add 9 million jobs by 2022 — it also has the most room for innovators and creatives. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math is what keeps our world running and protects our future. The possibilities are seemingly endless, as there continues to be so much to discover and implement. Black women, who have the highest rate of higher education in our country, are the best conduits to moving this field forward. The White House has created a strategic 5-year-plan to get more women involved in STEM fields, which means there is money available and companies looking to make use of that money as an incentive. Women make up less than one in five BA recipients in science and engineering, but the drive to increase that amount has already begun, and research suggests that women in STEM are more likely to back policies that support female-oriented issues. There is a staggering amount of room for change in the future.

(Image via Getty)

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