The Wage Gap for Latinas Sucks — But Why Should White People Care?

You’ve probably heard the stat before: Latina women make less than 60 cents on white, non-Hispanic men’s dollar. If this is your first time learning about the Latina wage gap, here’s a visual representation for you to soak up.

But do you know the concrete implications of what such data entails? Of course the gap can’t be good, but exactly what are Latina women missing out on?

“If the wage gap were eliminated, on average, a Latina who is working full time year-round would have enough money for approximately 193 more weeks of food for herself and her family — that’s more than three and a half years’ worth — 27 additional months of rent” (Shabo).

We’re not taking about pennies here. These are serious consequences that can’t be swept aside as insignificant. You may be thinking, “Oh, Latina women are mostly immigrants or children of immigrants who don’t graduate from school, so just push them through the education system and this thing will work itself out!” I wish that were the case. Unfortunately, this problem persists across all education levels. The issue at the heart of the inequality isn’t school, it’s discrimination including internal and external biases. But that’s an entirely different discussion for another day. This article is about how everyone besides this very specific group is affected by the gap.

While pay equity would clearly benefit them, but how does it affect and even benefit everyone else?

Perhaps the most convincing argument boils down to the dollars and cents that constitute our economy. The U.S. economy as a whole is actually greatly affected by the gap. Latinx people in general are growing at astounding rates, and Latinas are the fastest growing purchasing power market as Latina moms hold 86% of purchasing power in their families. This problems isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Imagine how much more money could be put back into our economy by these women who have so much influence over the largest growing demographic in the country if the gap was closed. The cumulative effect of this inequality hurts these women and their families, but the greater economy as a whole is negatively impacted too. If we don’t act now, it will only be exacerbated with the passage of time.

Okay so Latina wage gap = bad, but how can we do anything to fix it?

There’s no need to despair as it is an issue that we can work on together, regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity. The first way is to take action by adding your name to this petition and telling the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that it needs to develop a revised equal pay data collection now. This is a simple action that will only take seconds out of your life and it could potentially have pay you back dividends, figuratively and literally.

In Boston, where I now reside, I know of a few programs that are aggressively fighting for the close of this wage gap. La Alianza Hispana (The Hispanic Alliance) offers education and workforce development programs for Latinas among other programming. Sociedad Latina (Latin Society) offers a plethora of programming that highlights youth in STEM as well as gender-specific mentoring as well. Donating your time or money to these organizations or other similar ones is a step for progress, and anything helps the cause.

As for me and my impact, one day I hope to start a community that empowers high school Latinas with the personal, professional, and academic skills that will prepare them to go on to whatever field the choose and close the wage gap one girl at a time. This is a dream of mine, and I hope to have your support when I do get it up and running!

I want to devote my life to this cause, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the same to make a difference. If you care about this issue even a fraction more than you did before reading this, then I have succeeded. Please take action not just for Latina women, but for your own pocket as well!