by Reem Papageorgiou | October 5, 2023
Bridging the Divide
The Urgent Need for Latina Equal Pay
The Latina Wage Gap
The Latina wage gap refers to the disparity in earnings between Latina women and other demographic groups, particularly when compared to white men. This wage gap highlights the unequal compensation that Latina women receive for their work, even when they hold similar job positions and possess comparable qualifications as their counterparts. The wage gap is a critical issue because it reflects not only economic inequality but also systemic factors that hinder progress toward gender and racial equity in the workforce.
When we talk about the Latina wage gap, we're discussing more than just numbers; we're discussing livelihoods, opportunities, and potential. Statistics reveal that Latina women earn just a fraction of what their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts make. In a report put out by National Partnership for Women and Families, “even as Latinas have entered the workforce in record numbers totaling some 12.6 million, they continue to face the largest wage gap among women. Latinas in the United States are typically paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.4 Among people working full time, year-round, Latinas are still typically paid just 57 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.5 Overall, all women are typically paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men.”
The Latina pay gap extends beyond low-wage workers to affect Latinas at every level, including Latinas in executive and other professional roles. The pay gap actually widens for educated Latinas; while Latinas are going to college at higher rates than ever before, education doesn’t eliminate the pay gap. In fact, the gap is largest for Latinas with a bachelor’s degree, who earn 31% less than white men on average.
The pay gap is even worse for Latina mothers: they earn 53% less than white fathers. When Latinas are paid less, they have less money for basic family necessities like rent, groceries, and school supplies. Over time, this impacts families’ ability to invest in savings, higher education, or property.
Over their career, the wage gap will typically cost Latinas nearly $1.2 million.
"Latinas are not working less hard. It comes down to the racism and sexism that they are facing in workplaces," said Jasmine Tucker, director of research for the National Women's Law Center, which also published a report on the Latina wage gap.
Key factors contributing to the Latina wage gap include:
- Occupational Segregation: Latina women are often concentrated in lower-paying industries and occupations, such as service work, healthcare support, and domestic work. These sectors are characterized by lower wages and fewer opportunities for career advancement.
- Educational Attainment: Despite pursuing higher education at similar rates to other demographic groups, Latina women's educational achievements are sometimes undervalued in the job market. This results in them being placed in lower-paying positions even when they hold advanced degrees.
- Language Barriers: Language proficiency can impact job opportunities and advancement. Some Latina women who are not native English speakers might face challenges accessing higher-paying roles that require fluent English communication.
- Discrimination and Bias: Discrimination, both explicit and implicit, can affect hiring, promotions, and salary negotiations. Stereotypes and biases can lead to Latina women being paid less for their work.
- Lack of Representation: Limited representation of Latina women in leadership roles and decision-making positions can perpetuate wage disparities. When leaders reflect the diversity of the workforce, it can positively influence policies and practices that address pay gaps.
- Motherhood Penalty: Like many women, Latina mothers often face a "motherhood penalty." This means that taking time off for maternity leave or caregiving responsibilities can result in diminished career opportunities and reduced earning potential.
Addressing the Latina wage gap requires a multifaceted approach that includes policy changes, corporate initiatives, and societal shifts. This may involve implementing pay transparency, advocating for fair workplace practices, supporting education and skill development, and fostering diverse leadership representation. By acknowledging and actively working to rectify the wage gap, we can create a more equitable and inclusive workforce that values the contributions of all individuals, regardless of their background.