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Hispanic women: Leaders of future U.S. economy

by Katherine Fernandez - Copy Editor
Thu, Apr 11th 2019 04:00 pm
UNFAIR PAY Hispanic women are the lowest paid group in America as illustrated by the graph to the right. But Hispanic women are making strides to change that as many of them are now entering higher paid careers like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, former NASA astronaut Ellen Ochoa and Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor.
UNFAIR PAY Hispanic women are the lowest paid group in America as illustrated by the graph to the right. But Hispanic women are making strides to change that as many of them are now entering higher paid careers like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, former NASA astronaut Ellen Ochoa and Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The fight for gender equality has been an uphill battle from the start. Whether it was the right to vote or the right to an education, women have struggled to be recognized and respected in the way their male counterparts have always been. 

April 2 is Equal Pay Day, which marks the number of days into the year that a woman must work to catch up to what men made the previous year. 

However, this doesn’t account for racial disparity. For women who identify as Hispanic or Latino, Equal Pay Day isn’t until November 20 as they only make 63 cents for every dollar that white men make. Despite this inequality, Hispanic women are projected to make major contributions to the American economy in the future. 

In contemporary films, Hispanic women are often depicted as women of low income, who work service and hospitality jobs in cleaning or laundry services and work in the beauty inustry. 

What you might not know is that Latinas occupy more positions in healthcare and social assistance than non-Latina women, according to a study by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. Undeterred by decades of discrimination and language barriers, Latinas are the only demographic that continually make great strides to exceed their previously recorded income and education.  

Hispanics are the fastest growing population of minorities in America, comprising 18.1 percent of the population and is estimated to grow to 30 percent  by 2060, as stated in a report by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

That same report documented that the number of Hispanic women pursuing four-year degrees immediately after high school has now exceeded that of the general population. In addition to that, Latinas are having fewer children and choosing to have them later in life, thus effectively giving them time to establish themselves professionally. 

Although statistically Latinas are more likely to become single mothers when compared to non-Latina women, this is also an opportunity for economic growth. As head of their household, single Hispanic mothers are in charge of finances and are more likely to spend on costly luxury goods, contributing to the recent spike in earnings reported by high-end cosmetic and fashion brands.

Although the Selig Center’s data reports that Hispanics accounted for approximately $1.5 trillion in American spending in 2018, they are still pigeonholed into caricatures of themselves in mainstream media, being commonly depicted as laborers or teen moms, among other prevalent stereotypes.

Contributions from the Latina community could increase dramatically if the pay gap closed. The McKinsey Global Institute conducted research and presented findings consistent with economic growth directly as a result of equality in the workforce. 

“If women participate in the labor force at the same rate as men, work the same number of hours as men and are employed at the same levels as men: By 2025, the U.S. economy would grow by 19 percent,” the report stated. The McKinsey Global Institute also asserted that “closing the gender gap in the workforce could add $28 trillion to the global GDP.” 

With all of this data to prove that Latina women are set to break economic barriers in the coming years, the U.S. Senate has taken note and planned accordingly.

In December of 2018, the Senate passed the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment (WEEE) Act. The bill not only recognized the importance of investing in women’s entrepreneurship, it also addresses the lack of access that women may have to financial planning, as well as addressing the estimated $300 billion deficit between businesses owned by women and businesses owned by men. 

Companies like 100 Hispanic Women bring young Latinas to the forefront of the business world, providing them with valuable networking opportunities and granting them undergraduate and graduate scholarships to help them achieve their goals. 

Cultivating the minds of Latina youth is the key to American economic prosperity, but unless the fundamental issues concerning the wage gap are addressed and changed, the U.S. economy will remain stunted.