The Pay Gap for Latinas Is Growing

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Today is Latina Equal Pay Day, the day that Latina workers finally earn the same money as non-Hispanic white men for similar work. Put another way: Latinas typically earn only 54.5 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men, and so must work a total of 23 months to earn what white men earn in a year.

It’s the last “equal pay day” of the year, which means they literally work longer than everyone else.

It puts a whole new spin on Thanksgiving.

My sisters in inclusion at MPW and the Broadsheet have published an important opinion piece from Mónica Ramírez, organizer of the National Latina Equal Pay Day of Action, who points out how the pay gap has actually worsened: This year’s equal pay day came 18 days later than last year’s.

“Each day that a Latina is not paid fairly is one day too many, and the impact of losing even one cent has real consequences for Latinas and our families. It means losing almost an additional month of rent, groceries, and bills. It means dwarfed spending power for the Latinx community, less money to save to send our children to college, and little money put away for an emergency. It means $1.1 million dollars denied over the course of a 40 year-career.”

And new research from LeanIn.Org, SurveyMonkey, and UnidosUs, a nonprofit research, policy, and advocacy group serving the Hispanic community, shows that we all need to do better.

For one thing, in polling 5,690 people, they found that not enough people realize that a serious pay gap even exists:


  • …of Americans don’t know that Latinas, on average, are paid less than white men for doing similar work.


  • …of Americans don’t know that Latinas, on average, are paid less than white women.

54.5 cents

  • …is what Latinas make for every dollar a white man makes for doing similar work.


  • …of people underestimate the size of the pay gap, even when they know it exists.

That said, half of all Americans do agree that “prejudice” is the reason for the disparate pay:


  • …of people attribute the gap to some form of prejudice against Latinas, when told about the gap and asked about the reasons for it. 34% attribute it to racism, 35% attribute it to sexism, and 31% think that prejudice against immigrants is a major factor. 

Turns out “lack of Latinas in leadership” is seen as a significant issue: 


  • …of Latinas think a major reason the gap exists is that fewer Latinas are in leadership positions, while 30% of all Americans agree.

And more Americans as a whole are taking a stand at the polls:


  • …of respondents say they have voted for a political candidate who takes a stand on equal pay.

It’s time to step up the pressure, Zandra Zuno Baermann, Senior Vice President for Communications and Marketing at UnidosUS, tells raceAhead by email. 

“Many employees now know that in the United States there is a wage gap associated with gender and race. Ideally, the law would change to ensure that salaries are fair and nondiscriminatory,” she says. “In the meantime, managers should listen to Latinas and other women, and support policies that reward hard work, expand economic security, and help bolster the national economy.”

In the meanwhile, allies and managers need to support their Latina workmates to make the case for their worth every day, she says. “Encourage people to attend workshops that help women learn more about the wage gap, how to articulate their personal value, and carry out successful salary negotiations.”

Ellen McGirt


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