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The Pay Gap for Latinas Is Growing

November 20, 2019, 6:46 PM UTC

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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


On Point

A portrait of Harriet Tubman.
Universal History Archive via Getty Images

A Harriet Tubman film? Let’s get Julia Roberts! This is the sorry tale told by screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard, who waited 25 years to get his Harriet Tubman screenplay produced. Back in 1994, the then-president of a major studio thought Howard had a winner on his hands. "This is a great script. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman," he was told. According to Howard, the lone Black person in the room explained that Tubman was, you know, Black. "That was so long ago. No one will know that," came the reply. In this instructive first-person account, Howard describes two decades of frustration and missed opportunities. That the film was ultimately produced—it was the activists who made it all possible, he says. "#OscarsSoWhite, DiversityHollywood, and the other pushes and protests for inclusion and diverse storytelling had moved the needle: The climate had changed."
Los Angeles Times

Pete buttigieg morehouse web version
Pete Buttigieg greets students at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg unveils his HBCU plan at Morehouse His plan involves dedicating $50 billion to shore up historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to address some of the damage done by generations of chronic underfunding. "There’s no way we can just wash our hands of this and say that ‘well, now we’ve torn down a lot of these structures of discrimination so equity will just take care of itself.’ It won’t because the harms compound," Buttigieg said. If elected, he will also support free tuition, easier access to Pell grants, and some loan forgiveness. Several candidates are visiting HBCUs ahead of Wednesday’s presidential debate, but Buttigieg has some ground to make up with Black voters. Based on reporting from the Washington Posthe’d made some headway. "I definitely think that (Buttigieg) probably caught their attention," said Kristen Hope Wilder, president of the Young Democrats of Spelman College. "I think a lot of people coming in tonight didn’t know where he stood on certain issues. This gives people the initiative to look more into him and keep an eye on him on the debate stage."

Harvard Business School professor calls for an end to “surveillance” capitalism Shoshana Zuboff, a professor emerita at Harvard Business School, called on the audience at the 2019 Fortune Global Forum in Paris on Monday to get serious about regulating the data-mining and advertising practices of Big Tech. "We need laws that interrupt supply and demand—that disassemble the incentives for surveillance dividends," Zuboff said. She also called for a ban on markets that "trade in human futures," citing the kinds of targeted ads that are designed to "coax, tune, and herd our behavior," which have overwhelming influence in all our lives. "We know [these markets] have predictable destructive consequences to human behavior and autonomy" and to democratic society, Zuboff said. "We must outlaw them the same way we’ve outlawed trade in human organs or babies or slaves." Robert Hackett reports.

On Background

Today is the Trans Day of Remembrance The now annual event was started in 1999 by advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to commemorate the life and death of Rita Hester, a black trans woman murdered the year before in Allston, Mass. "Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost,” said Smith in her founding statement. To show you care, follow the #TransDayofRemembrance hashtag on social media. GLAAD has a long list of resources and information on how to mark the TDOR and support the trans community here. The Human Rights Campaign has an excellent guide for making workplaces trans-inclusive below.
Human Rights Campaign

Working the race beat in journalism You don’t have to be a journalist to feel this essay. Anyone who is “on the race” beat in their jobs will find wisdom in Errin Haines Whack’s story of how she became AP’s national writer for race and ethnicity. “The appointment also cemented my sense that, throughout my career, long before my role as a race reporter was made official, it has been crucial for me to seek out stories that help bear witness to and for my community—and then, in the newsroom, push past the comfort of some white gatekeepers,” she says. She places her work in the context of civil rights history and the Kerner Commission findings, and lets us know that there is so much more to do – pushing past mainstream ideas about black communities long held by mostly white newsrooms, and trying to establish trust with the wary communities whose stories desperately need to be told.
Columbia Journalism Review

Soul Food Mac and Cheese photographed in Washington, D.C.
Deb Lindsey—The Washington Post via Getty Images

On the meaning of macaroni and cheese If you think of mac and cheese as an easy, weeknight side dish that starts in a blue box, then you’re probably white. But if you think of macaroni and cheese as a made-from-scratch culinary event, then you’re probably Black. And that’s part of the fascinating difference between Black and white Thanksgiving celebrations. “In Black culture, for the most part, macaroni & cheese is the pinnacle, the highest culinary accolade. Who makes it, how it’s made and who’s allowed to bring it to a gathering involves negotiation, tradition, and tacit understanding,” writes Kathleen Purvis. A delightful look at how a “simple” dish defines a culture.
Charlotte Observer

Tamara El-Waylly helps write and produce raceAhead.


"Stigma and discrimination against trans and gender-diverse people is real and profound around the world, and are part of a structural and ongoing circle of oppression that keeps us deprived of our basic rights. Trans and gender-diverse people are victims of horrifying hate violence, including extortion, physical and sexual assaults, and murder. In most countries, data on murdered trans and gender-diverse people are not systematically produced and it is impossible to estimate the actual number of cases." 

—From a new report from Transrespect Versus Transphobia Worldwide


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