Latinas lose more than $ 1 million in their lifetime


Today is Latina Equal Pay Day, and means that Latinas would have to work until October 21, 2021 just to earn as much as their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts in 2020. A Latina would have to work until she is nearly 90 years old (eight years over their life expectancy) just to make the same amount a white man made by age 60, according to the National Center for Women’s Rights. Here are some ways the wage gap affected Latinas during the pandemic and beyond – and why it’s not a personal problem, but a national one.

There is no safety net. According to research by Lean In and SurveyMonkey, half of Latinas struggled to pay for basic needs such as rent and childcare in the past year. And half of the Latinas have less than $ 300 to fall back on.

“We’re talking about the fact that Latinas make 57 cents on the dollar, but what impact does that have in the real world?” Said Diana Ramirez, a 39-year-old Latina from El Paso, TX, mother of two and an expert on wage differentials at the National Women’s Law Center. “My aunt, who was disabled after an encephalitis infection at the age of 59, did not have the safety net she would have if there were no differences in wages. She had been a childcare worker and later, ironically, took care of disabled adults and also helped babysit my children and my cousin’s children. She had no savings. She had no health insurance or other benefits like a 401K. She wasn’t making enough to pay into these things. So her family had to resort to a GoFundMe account that raised about $ 9,000 just to pay for someone to look after them during the day while we all worked. I think of all the other women who don’t have that safety net. The wage gap affects the everyday life of Latinas. “

The punishment for motherhood is real. Even before Covid began, there were Latina mothers only 46 cents for every dollar paid Paid to white, non-Hispanic fathers – even though more than six in ten were primary or co-breadwinners for their families.

Ramirez also shared how her 32-year-old cousin with a masters degree in occupational therapy, who was pregnant with her second child, was offered a lower-paying job with flexibility by her boss. “My cousin asked her boss if they would offer a man who has a child a lower-paying job,” says Ramirez. “This is very discriminatory, and that’s why my cousin told her boss that she would take the paid leave she was given and go back to the same job on exactly the same income that she was earning.”

Women of color may pay the highest penalty for motherhood. “Part of what we need to do to solve this problem for Latinas and other working mothers is treating childcare as a public good,” said Emily Martin, vice president of education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center. “We recognize that as a country we invest in childcare so that people can work and our economy can grow, just as we invest in roads and bridges. It also means ensuring that the US is not the last wealthy country in the world not to offer paid family and sick leave. “

Latinas are over-represented in low-wage jobs. Latinas are twice as likely as non-Hispanic, white women in low-paying service jobs, such as in the food industry. Ramirez has spoken to low-paid Latinas across the country as part of her work for the National Women’s Law Center. The minimum wage for restaurant staff in many states is only $ 2.13 per hour, and so these workers rely on tips to make up the difference.

“After restaurants reopened, there were reports of sexual harassment across the country,” says Ramirez. “Men would say, ‘Take off your mask so I know how much tip to tip you. Take off your mask so I can see how pretty you are. Take off your mask so I can see if the top half of your body is in line with the bottom half of your body. ‘ The impact of the wage gap is particularly evident for tipped workers, and women and Latinas have had to risk their lives and the chance of being tipped to feed themselves and their families. ”

The wage gap affects the economy for everyone. What does the Latin pay gap mean for families, for the workplace and for our economy? “Latinas lose over a million dollars in their careers, and that’s life changing money, which means they are less able to build intergenerational wealth to pass on to families and children,” says Martin. “That means they lost thousands of dollars every month that they could have paid for childcare, rent, or student loans. This not only affects individual Latinas, but entire communities. It means the economy doesn’t benefit from the dollars that Latinas don’t have to spend. If a Latina has to leave work – simply because she can no longer afford childcare or is being forced out of work by sexual harassment – then we cannot benefit from her ideas, creativity and leadership. It diminishes the talent pool we all depend on to innovate. These arbitrary barriers to success harm everyone. “

The data represent only part of the image. Although the latest numbers look like the wage gap has improved slightly, with Latinas making 57 cents a dollar – up from 55 cents a dollar last year – that’s not the whole story. “The data on the wage gap for 2020 is complicated because in addition to women who are leaving the labor force, Latino women are disproportionately affected by very high unemployment rates, with rates of up to 20% in April 2020,” says Martin. “It is also important to note that in 2020 people in low paid jobs are particularly likely to lose their jobs. Part of the narrowing of the wage gap that we are seeing is very likely because people in the worst paying jobs have lost their jobs. ”Is completely and is therefore not counted in the data. What we don’t have really good data on is the experiences of these half a million women and what made them feel like they were about to retire from the world of work. How are these women and their families doing without this income? It looks like progress, but actually it only cuts the floor for people who were initially in the most difficult economic positions. “

Use the right support systems. “We’re counting on so many things right now, but especially Latinas, because it’s not just about the money we get. It’s also about the opportunities we are denied and the support systems we need to get us back to work, ”says Laura Espriu, a Latina who immigrated to the US from Mexico and is on both Twitter and also works in talent development and DEI runs a Lean In Circles network that focuses on Latina women in the Seattle area. “Even when a job pays well and the cost of childcare is almost as high as your monthly income, women are forced to make difficult decisions. If we as a country could spend our money where our intentions are – if we value women in the world of work, if we value the women who take care of our children during our work – we will invest in high-quality childcare, early education, paid vacation and a livable minimum wage. It’s not just about the amount of money that goes into the pockets of the Latinas, but also about the support systems that help them get these jobs and how it is beneficial for all of us. “


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