Remember when, in 2016, the Obama administration announced plans to put abolitionist and underground railroad hero Harriet Tubman on the face of the new $20 bill? Ah, the good old days. Over a year later, in January 2018, Treasury leader under Trump, Steve Mnuchin said he hadn’t made any decisions about whether they would or would not change the bill. Womp-womp.
Who knows whether the Harriet Tubman $20 bill will come to fruition, but here’s something we do know: Harriet Tubman wouldn’t have earned equal pay for her work today. The lives Harriet Tubman worked so hard to save are still being undervalued in America.
Most people are familiar with the stat that women make 78 cents to the dollar of a white man, but women of color fare much worse. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Black women make 65 cents to a white man’s dollar on average for the same work. The American Association of University Women reports that Native American women make just 57 cents on average.
We wondered: How much would $20 be worth if it were adjusted to the rate women are really making? We paired today’s wages with powerful women figures from history to illustrate the answers.
Asian-American Women: $0.88 on the Dollar
On the money: Yuri Kochiyama was a Japanese-American activist who was a member of Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity. She also protested with Puerto Rican activists who were seeking Puerto Rican independence and fought for reparations for Japanese-Americans who were put into internment camps after Pearl Harbor.
How much of that $20 she'd see: $19.40
Asian-American women make an average of 88.2 cents to a white man’s dollar.
Black Women: $0.65 on the Dollar
On the money: Harriet Tubman was a Black abolitionist during the Civil War. She rescued hundreds of people from slavery and helped them find work and was also active in the women’s suffrage movement.
How much of that $20 she'd see: $13.02
Black women make an average of 65.1 cents to a white man’s dollar.
Hispanic Women: $0.59 on the Dollar
On the money: Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta is a civil rights activist who focuses on immigrants', women’s and workers' rights. In 1962, she cofounded the National Farm Workers Association. She’s directed national boycotts, been arrested more than 20 times for nonviolent protests and lobbied for numerous law changes.
How much of that $20 she'd see: $11.86
Hispanic women make an average of 59.3 cents to a white man’s dollar.
White Women: $0.81 on the Dollar
On the money: Mary Walker was a surgeon for the Union during the American Civil War and was captured as a POW. After the war, she was active in the women’s suffrage movement.
How much of that $20 she'd see: $16.20
White women make an average of 81 cents to a white man’s dollar.
Native Americans & Alaska Natives: $0.57 on the Dollar
On the money: Sarah Winnemucca was an activist and author who was dedicated to Native American rights. She fought for years for her tribe’s reservation to be returned to them, but to no avail. She used the proceeds she earned from her writing to fund a Paiute school until the money completely ran out.
How much of that $20 she'd see: $11.40
Native Americans and Alaska Natives make an average of 57 cents to a white man’s dollar.
Pacific Islanders/Native Hawaiians: $0.59 on the Dollar
On the money: Lili'uokalani was the last queen of Hawaii. Not long after she inherited the throne, Americans and Europeans started threatening her position. After being forced to resign, she attempted to sue the American government but was unsuccessful. She left the money from her estate to orphaned and needy children.
How much of that $20 she'd see: $11.80
Pacific Islanders/Native Hawaiians make an average of 59 cents to a white man’s dollar.
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Women deserve to be more than figureheads on our currency. We deserve equal pay.
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