The Latina Pay Gap: What It Is and Resources To Combat It

By Jocelyne Gafner

Published October 3, 2022

Jocelyne Gafner is a writer and editor for Indeed with five-plus years of experience in content creation. She is passionate about the power of words and their impact on equitable access to information.

In the United States, the gender pay gap is closing, but if you take a closer look at the numbers, you may find that there are disparities between races. Latinas are the most underpaid demographic earning just 57 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men and 69 cents for every dollar paid to white women. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we would like to better understand exactly how the numbers break down, as well as help bring attention to some organizations that provide resources to combat the pay gap on an individual and societal level.

The circumstances that have led to the pay gap are systemic and while there are things Latinas can do to advocate for themselves in the workplace, allies are crucial in the fight to close the gap. Keep reading to learn what you can do as a Latina or an ally to help work towards greater pay parity.


Click here to read this article in Spanish.


Key takeaways


  • The earning ratio between Latinas and white men has only improved by 4% in 41 years

  • Latinas are paid less than women of other ethnicities as well as men even when they have the same credentials.

  • Latinas are overrepresented in low-wage occupations and also experience a wage gap within high-paying occupations.

  • Latinas experienced the highest rates of unemployment of all demographics due to the pandemic.

  • Latinas ask for promotions and raises at the same rates as white men, yet are 29% more likely to be passed over for a promotion.

  • While Latinas should continue to advocate for themselves, reaching pay parity will require the help of allies and organizations


An examination of the Latina pay gap


Little progress has been made to close the gender pay gap in recent years and the rate of change is especially negligible for Latinas. According to a recent report from the AAUW, the earning ratio between Latinas and white men has only improved by 4% in 41 years, (from 1988-2019) which means that if this trend continues, it would take another 432 years for Latinas to reach equal pay.


So what is contributing to such a large pay gap? A major contributor is that Latinas are overrepresented in low-wage occupations. Yet, there is also a wage gap within high-paying occupations. According to a report from Unidos US, the median yearly pay for Latinas is consistently lower than that of white non-Hispanic men in industries such as tech, health care and legal.


Additionally, despite the fact that a 2018 report revealed that Latinos are the ethnic group that is least likely to have a college degree in the United States, Latinas are still paid less than women of other ethnicities as well as men even when they have the same credentials. 


There are a lot of factors that may be stagnating strides to close the pay gap for Latinas in particular. In addition to lower overall levels of education and experience, biases play a role in the persisting pay gap and the effects could be considered troubling.



The effects of the pay gap on Latinas and society


According to a 2021 report from UCLA, Latinas experienced the highest rates of unemployment of all demographics due to the pandemic. The report points to overrepresentation in industries most impacted by the pandemic and low-wage jobs as major factors that led to a disproportionately high number of Latinas leaving the workforce.


In addition to losing positions in vulnerable industries, record numbers of Latinas left the workforce to take on increasing caregiving duties—adding to the already high rates of Latinas staying at home in caregiving roles. Research by the Pew Research Center found that pre-pandemic, Latinas were the group most likely to stay at home to take care of their children, and as confirmed in a 2021 report by AAUW, time out of the workforce can translate to fewer lifetime earnings. 


The UCLA report also noted that Latinas are among the fastest growing populations in the U.S. labor force, but lingering consequences from the pandemic may inhibit Latinas from returning to the workforce and reaching their full potential. The report argues that systemic changes are needed to close the pay gap and reduce discrimination. If things remain the same, it would not only harm the Latina demographic and their families by thoroughly impeding the possibility for upward economic mobility, “but would harm the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. labor force and economy.”



As a society and nation, it could be argued that we all stand to gain something when everyone is treated equally–the question is how.


How to take action towards pay equality


In the fight for equal pay, women are often encouraged to advocate for themselves, and a lot of focus is placed on methods of delivery—women are often told to be assertive, but not too assertive, less they be perceived as aggressive or domineering. But calls for greater self-advocacy in the fight to close the Latina pay gap are largely misguided, since research from Lean In shows that Latinas ask for promotions and raises at the same rates as white men, yet are 29% more likely to be passed over for a promotion.


These findings echo the work by ideas42, an organization that uses behavioral design to develop solutions for a range of issues and contends that true pay parity relies on changes in social norms rather than changes in individuals. To that end, while Latinas should continue to advocate for themselves, reaching pay parity will need to be a team effort. The following list provides allies with resources to aid Latinas and women in general to close the pay gap.


Resources to help close the Latina pay gap


1. Lean In  


Lean In has one of the most actionable resources available for bridging the gap available for free on their site. The 50 Ways to Fight Bias digital program is meant to be presented as a workshop within a company with a moderator leading the presentation. 


The organization even offers free moderator training to prepare anyone interested to lead their company through the program. There is also copious research regarding the gender pay gap and numerous resources available on Lean In’s website for allies and companies hoping to help close the gap. 


2. AAUW


The American Association of University Women offers easily digestible information pertaining to the pay gap and presents a variety of action steps that allies can take to advance gender equity on national, state and policy levels. The organization also offers grants and scholarships, salary negotiation classes and financial literacy classes for women throughout the world. Allies interested in contributing to this organization can easily donate on the site.


3. ideas42


ideas42 is an organization that originated at Harvard which uses behavioral design to partner with a variety of institutions to develop solutions to create social impact. In 2021 they partnered with TIME’S UP Foundation to create a 47-page guide geared toward employers with the hope of creating more equitable companies. 


In their manual, they describe how their method differs from other workplace trainings—namely, the shift from trainings that focus on changing the way individuals behave to changing features of environments and systems that in turn encourage less discriminatory behavior. The 2021 guide is something that could be presented to company leaders with the suggestion of internal implementation.


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