Fierce

It Would Take Nearly 2 Years for a Latina To Reach a White Man’s Yearly Salary — Let’s Change That

The pay gap between men and women has already been well-established as one of the major blindspots of the contemporary workforce, with an overall gap of 73 cents to every dollar earned by a white man. But one aspect of that inequity that has actually worsened over time is the Latina pay gap, which has only increased in recent years.

A sharp increase in the gap between 2020 and 2022 has a lot to do with the pandemic, but the numbers pre-COVID weren’t exactly encouraging to begin with. According to Luz Media, Latinas made 57 cents to the dollar earned by a white man in 2020. In 2022, that number has dropped to 49 cents, compared to 73 cents for white women.

Even more concerning is the fact that the wage gap only increases over time and as Latinas pursue higher education. At the age of 16, Latinas and white men are separated by a 9% wage gap, according to data published by Lean In, a nonprofit organization that works for equality. As Latinas and white men approach their 50s, the gap increases to a whopping 42%.

One might assume that Latinas who pursue higher education have an opportunity to close the gap, but it turns out that the opposite is true. Latinas without a high school education are separated from their white male counterparts by a 21% wage gap. However, Latinas with their Bachelor’s degrees are separated from white men by 31%, while those who pursue even higher education get paid 27% less than white men.

Digging further into the data, it becomes apparent that as Latinas become more successful in their professional lives, the wage gap only gets worse. Latinas in leadership or managerial roles are paid 36% less than white men, compared to just 15% for cashiers and schoolteachers.

The most disturbing aspect of the wage gap isn’t necessarily how much Latinas get paid but how much they’re losing compared to white men. Lean In estimates that a Latina woman loses nearly $1.2 million in wages throughout a 40-year career.

“It’s shocking and outrageous that the wage gap for Latinas has only narrowed 4 pennies in the last 40 years,” Emily Martin, Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice at the National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement. “This gap burns a gaping hole in Latinas’ pocketbooks throughout their lives.”

Marting also explains how, based on today’s wage gap, a Latina would need to work until the age of 93 to make what a white, non-Hispanic man is paid by the age of 60. “If we fail to act now to ensure equal pay, Latinas and their families will continue to pay the price of this devastating gap. They literally can’t afford to wait any longer.”

In states like New Jersey, Latina women cumulatively lose more than 1.7 million dollars in wages throughout a lifetime. In Washington D.C., that number increases to just under $2 million. Latinas actually lose more than they make in at least twelve states, including Texas and California, which are both home to some of the largest concentrations of Latinos in the country.

The numbers are even worse for Latina mothers. Lean In’s data estimates that Latina mothers make just 46 cents to every dollar earned by a white father. Even though Latinas are obviously as professionally ambitious as white men, many times they are still stereotyped as domestically inclined and uninterested in their long-term professional goals. The data shows that this is simply not the case.

The real-world implications of this gap cannot continue to be ignored. In a 2021 article from Forbes, Diana Ramirez, a wage gap expert from the NWLC relayed a story about her aunt who worked all her life and was not able to support herself financially when she fell ill with a disability at the age of 59.

“She had been a childcare worker, and later ironically cared for disabled adults, as well as helped babysit my children and my cousin’s children,” Ramirez said. “She didn’t have savings. She didn’t have health insurance or other benefits such as a 401K. She didn’t make enough to pay into these things.”

Ramirez continued, “Her family had to resort to a GoFundMe account that raised about $9,000 just to help pay for somebody to take care of her during the day while we all worked. I think of all the other women who don’t have that safety net. This is how the wage gap affects Latinas’ everyday lives.”

The wage gap also reveals the Latina struggle for upward mobility in the job market and are currently over-represented in low-wage work. Many employees in the service industry make as little as $2.13 an hour, the minimum wage for service workers in 16 states, including Texas, reports Patriot.

As far as Latinas who do find themselves climbing the corporate ladder, the struggle for raises and promotions is still an uphill battle. Latina women get promoted at a rate of 71 to every 100 white men who get a promotion, despite Latinas negotiating for promotions and raises at a higher rate than white men.

The inequities of not only pay but women of color in leadership positions only increase across the corporate pipeline. A 2022 Women in the Workplace report from Lean In reveals that, although women of color comprise 19% of entry-level workers, the number shrinks to just 5% concerning c-suite executive positions.

As Latinas continue to represent the largest demographic of women of color in the country, they bear the burden of demanding more for themselves and other marginalized communities impacted by the wage gap. This year, Latina Equal Pay Day falls on December 8. This isn’t a holiday that’s celebrated on the same day every year, it’s a representation of how long it takes a woman to make the same as their white, male counterparts did the year prior.

Because this year’s Latina Equal Pay Day falls on December 8, 2022, that means it would take nearly two years for a Latina to make what a white man makes in just one year. This year, the numbers reveal that Latinas get paid the least of any marginalized group of women. In direct proportion to white men, that means Latinas are given nearly four hours of unpaid labor during an eight-hour workday.

To learn more about how we can fight the wage gap, check out Lean In’s 50 Ways to Fight Gender Bias digital teaching tool.

It offers an opportunity to learn more about the wage gap, gender bias in the workplace, and the different ways you can become an ally and help fight against inequity in both pay and representation.

And stay tuned for FIERCE by mitú’s ongoing coverage of how to combat and dismantle the Latina wage gap.

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