Do You Relate? Most Latinas Say They Had To Work ‘Twice As Hard’ As Non-Latino Co-Workers
The people at People en Español teamed up with Lieberman Research Worldwide to survey 500 Latinas* in the workforce to figure out how we really feel at work. Some of the “Latina@Work” findings are things we already know, like most of us often feel like we’re inhabiting at least two worlds at once. But here are some other interesting key findings we came away with after looking through the study’s results:
1. The study indicates that Latinas often feel caught between being perceived as “too Latina” at work and “not Latina enough” at home.
The survey’s Latina respondents were also twice as likely to feel that they had to work “twice as hard” as their non-Latino co-workers “because of my cultural background.”
2. Eighty percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “At work, I want to be seen as who I really am, including being Latina.”
This sounds like common sense until you consider that 1) Latino, as a term describing a broad, diverse group of people of Latin American origin in the U.S., is still relatively new, and that 2) previous generations had different attitudes towards assimilation. It is, in a very real sense, a term that it is still being defined. And, increasingly, we’re defining it for ourselves.
3. Those surveyed believe they need to dress more conservative and style their hair a certain way to be taken seriously in the office.
Thirty-one percent of the Latinas surveyed felt that they “dress more conservatively than my co-workers in order to be taken seriously” (vs. 21% of white, non-Latina women). Additionally, 35% said, “The way I style my hair impacts how successful I am at work” (vs. 25% of white non-Latinas). The survey doesn’t offer a breakdown according to race, which would have been interesting to see given the amount of scrutiny placed on black women, including black Latinas, when it comes to hairstyle. It would also have been interesting to delve deeper into what stereotypes about Latinas–such as that we’re curvier and more sexual than, say, white non-Latinas–plays when it comes to how we think about our image in the workplace.
4. However, we’re paving the way and breaking barriers.
Fifty-one percent of the Latinas surveyed are the first in their family to go to college. The big takeaway here is that we’re essentially a generation of women forming our own template for success. This is not to downplay the achievements made by those before us or to say that college is the only path to a meaningful future, but we should give ourselves credit, too!
Interestingly, when asked whether they “make it a priority to focus on my own needs,” only 47% of Latinas responded in the affirmative, compared to 69% of white non-Latinas.
…Also interesting that news of this study was the third result here:
In short: Latinas are dealing with a diverse set of (sometimes conflicting) expectations from both within our community and outside of it, while continuing to define for ourselves what it means to be Latina.
*Women who were surveyed were between ages 25–54, included white non-Latinas within the same age range, came from 5 major U.S. cities (Miami, New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Charlotte) and represented various backgrounds (specifically Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Chilean, and Honduran).
You can find the complete survey here.
Do you relate to these concerns? If you could give one piece of advice to a Latina about to enter the workforce, what would it be?