Latina women have to work almost twice as much as white men to earn the same amount of money.

Latinas were compensated just 54% of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2021, according to the AAUW.

This is what is known as the gender pay gap.

At the current rate, Latinas won’t earn equal pay until 2197. That’s 174 years if you do the math. That means maybe your Latina great great great granddaughter might achieve equal pay before she retires. The gender pay gap amounts to a loss of nearly $1.2 million over a 40-year career, according to The National Women’s Law Center. 

It’s Women’s History Month and an important time to honor all the Latinas out there.

I could honor all the Latinas who have broken barriers and name my “sheroes” such as Dolores Huerta, Ellen Ochoa, Sonia Sotomayor, Joan Baez, Rita Moreno, Maria Elena Salinas, Maria Hinojosa and more.

I could tip my hat to some of the up and coming Latinas in politics and entertainment such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, X Gonzalez, Jenna Ortega, Aubrey Plaza, Selena Gomez and more.

Also, I have had many Latina friends and mentors, most importantly my mom and sisters, who have supported me on my journey.

It’s important to celebrate Latinas year round. But what we really need is pay equity.

Latinas are the second-largest group of women workers after white women. There are 12.8 million Latina women in the labor force, around 17% of all women in the labor force today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Latinas account for nearly 12% of sales and related occupations and 30% of service occupations, many of which are low-paying jobs. Latinas  make up around 1% of jobs in engineering and computing, the two highest-paying STEM fields, according to the AAUW.

Even within the same educational level as white men, Latinas still earn less. Among those with a bachelor’s degree, Latinas only make 64.6% of what white, non-Hispanic men make. 

The pandemic also hit Latina women the hardest as many work in vulnerable jobs. The unemployment rate for Latinas was 20.1%  in April 2020, according to the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative. This was higher than that of men or women in any other racial or ethnic group in the labor market. 

By comparison, the unemployment rate among Black women was 16.4%, and 15.0% among white women at the same time. At its worst, Latina women’s unemployment was more than 4 times higher than its pre-pandemic rate.

The unemployment rate for Latina women was down to 3.7% in December 2022.

Latinas don’t give up. Many lose a job and start a business. We are entrepreneurial.

There are over two million Latina-owned businesses in the country, a growth of more than 87% since 2007, according to the National Women’s Business Council. These Latina-owned businesses are helping to fuel the U.S. economy. 

We need more funding and education programs to support Latinas in the workforce.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership offers a variety of programs, including training and mentorships, and options for Latina entrepreneurs to apply for loans.

Fundera, a New York City-based organization, is a matchmaker for small businesses and pairs entrepreneurs with lenders. 

We can help Latinas and all workers by increasing the minimum wage.

We also need to create more childcare support, federal mandatory paid family leave and expand the child tax credit. 

All these policies would help Latinas and all families in the U.S. It’s time Latinas are paid what we’re worth. 

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Teresa Puente has spent her career reporting on immigration and Latino issues in the U.S. and has also reported extensively from Mexico. Previously, she was a staff reporter at the Chicago Tribune and...