Today is Latina Equal Pay Day, a day that recognizes and raises awareness for the wage gap that Latina women face. More than 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Latina workers earn only 54 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men. Those who work full time year-round only earn 57 cents to the dollar.
The simple truth is, Latinas are not paid fairly. In fact, Latinas have the lowest earnings of any major race or ethnicity and gender group, earning on average, 43% less than white men and 28% less than white women. The Latina wage gap has persisted for far too long and, if we continue to do nothing, it will take up to two centuries to close this gap.
Latinas are a powerhouse population accounting for close to $1 trillion in US buying power, but earn only a fraction of what white, non-hispanic men earn. This gap has hardly moved in over 30 years, and the longstanding pay disparities Latinas face have only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.
Latinas make up just 7% of the overall workforce, but they account for 22% of child-care workers and there are nearly three in 10 Latinas working in essential industries today, but still being underpaid for their work.
The wage gap for Latinas starts young, too. From age 16, Latinas are paid less than white boys the same age—and the gap continues to grow from there.
Additionally, the wage gap widens for educated Latinas. Latinas are pursuing higher education more than ever before but education does not eliminate the wage gap. Data found that the gap is in fact largest for Latinas with a bachelor’s degree.
Despite their higher education these Latinas earn 35% less than white men on average, and even in the same position, Latinas still earn less than white men. Latinas also ask for promotions and raises at similar rates to white men, yet for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 71 Latinas are promoted.
Latinas face both sexism and racism in the workplace, with stereotypes fuling assumptions about Latinas’ work ethic and ambition. Stereotypes painting Latinas as overly domestic create the belief that Latinas are less ambitious in their careers making employers assume they don’t want to or expect to be paid well.
These stereotypes and unfair biases are harmful and have real lasting consequences on Latinas and their families. Latina mothers earn 54% less than white fathers, which means less money for basic family necessities like rent, food, school supplies, and impacts the family’s ability to save and invest long term.
Over time, the lost income adds up. According to the data, the average Latina’s career, she will lose over a million dollars compared to white men.
Steps toward closing the Latina wage gap
The gender wage gap has narrowed slightly over time but only by a few pennies over several decades. Currently the average pay for women in general is 82 cents per dollar earned by a man. A decade ago in 2011, that number was 77 cents, and in 1996 when the first Equal Pay Day was established, the number was around 74 cents. If this trend continues, the wage gap will not close for another 38 years or until around 2059.
For Black women the date is over a century away. And for Hispanic women it will be over two centuries before the wage gap closes if we do nothing to change the trend.
Some steps toward closing the Latina wage gap include supporting legislation and organizations aimed toward eliminating gender wage gaps such as PowHerNY, an inclusive statewide network of individuals and organizations committed to accelerating and securing economic equality for all New York women.
Another step Latinas can take to combat the wage gap, especially for those in low-wage jobs, is to join a union. According to data, the overall wage gap for union members is 53% smaller than the wage gap for non-members.
We cannot wait two centuries for the Latina wage gap to close. We need to take action now.
For more information and further learning on the gender wage gap:
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