Latinas and the Pay Gap

Picture of a Latina smiling in an outdoor setting.

How would you like to work the same hours for half the pay? That’s the case for many Latinas in the United States.

Because of the gender pay gap, Latinas were compensated 55% of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2019. That means it takes Latina workers almost an entire extra year of full-time, year-round work in order to be paid what the average annual earnings of a white man.

 

People’s occupational choices help us understand some of the pay gap, but not all of it. Latinas make up about one-third of the U.S. service industry, a sector in which workers are often paid by the hour and usually at the lower end of the pay scale. Research shows that women are underpaid compared to men in nearly every job in food service, even after accounting for tips. Latinx women and men also account for nearly 15% of sales and office occupations and 37% of building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations, all of which are low-paying jobs.

In addition to being overrepresented at the low-paying end of the spectrum, Latinas are underrepresented at the top. They make up just 1% of jobs in engineering and computing, the two highest-paying STEM fields.

Education is another factor in the gender pay gap. According to The Hechinger Report, Hispanic and Latinx workers are much less likely to have a college degree than are either white or Black workers. However, while more education helps increase women’s earnings, it still doesn’t close the gender pay gap. Latinas are paid less than white and Asian women are, even when they have the same educational credentials.

As part of the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority, Latinx are an increasingly influential constituency in the United States. Already accounting for 17% of the U.S. population, Latinx women and men are expected to make up nearly one-third of the country by 2060 — an increasingly powerful and fast-growing voting bloc.

It will take concerted effort to close the gap — but we can do it. We need to expand educational opportunities and address biases and inequities within the education system; advance equal pay laws and practices, including the federal Paycheck Fairness Act, laws in states and employer practices; and expand how we recruit and train for jobs and promotion pathways.

The Wage Gap Doesn't Discriminate

As AAUW’s research shows, women of every race and ethnicity experience a gender pay gap. All these groups are paid only a portion of white, non-Hispanic men’s earnings: Asian women (87%); white, non-Hispanic women (79%); Black women (63%); Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women (61%); and American Indian and Alaska Native women (57%). Altogether, women working full time, year-round in the United States in 2019 were paid an average of only 82% of what white non-Hispanic men were paid.