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Gender Pay Equity: Intersectionality Matters

Jen Dewar
Oct 21, 2021 9:40:32 AM

October 21 is Equal Pay Day for Latinas in 2021. That means the average Latina needed to work all of 2020 and most of 2021 to earn what the average White, non-Hispanic man earned in 2020 alone. 

To put it another way, Latinas earn 57 cents for every dollar White, non-Hispanic men earn. In comparison, the average woman earns 82 cents for every dollar earned by White, non-Hispanic men. This demonstrates the importance of looking at gender pay equity from an intersectional standpoint. 

Pay disparities can vary widely by intersectional identity

Latinas face both gender and racial biases in the workplace, with some facing additional biases and obstacles related to things like disabilities, LGBTQ+ identity, or motherhood. As a result, their workplace experiences are different from those of White women, Black women, Latinos, and other intersectional groups.

Pay disparities can be seen with many different factors, including:

  • Job level. Latinas in manager roles earn 66 cents for every dollar earned by White men in manager roles. By contrast, White women in manager roles earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by White men in the same job level.
  • Occupation. Latina nurses earn 73 cents for every dollar earned by White men in nursing roles, while White women earn 78 cents. Latina cashiers earn 92 cents for every dollar earned by White men in cashier roles, and White women earn 94 cents.
  • Community. Honduran and Guatemalan women typically earn less than half (44 and 47 percent, respectively) of what White, non-Hispanic men earn. 
  • Location. Latinas in California earn just 42 cents for every dollar earned by White, non-Hispanic men. 
  • Motherhood. Latina mothers earn only 46 cents for every dollar earned by White, non-Hispanic fathers, leading to an average loss of $38,000 each year. By contrast, all mothers are paid 75 cents for every dollar paid to fathers and White mothers are paid 71 cents for every dollar earned by White fathers.
  • Education. There’s a 30 percent pay gap between Latinas and White men with a high school diploma, but that grows to a 35 percent gap between Latinas and White men with a bachelor’s degree. 

The controlled pay gap for Latinas is smaller, but still persistent

The controlled pay gap takes into account education, years of experience, occupation and other compensable factors. When these are considered, Latinas earn 98 cents for every dollar earned by a White man with the same job and qualifications. The median pay for White men in the survey was $75,000, suggesting that Latinas earned $1500 per year less just for being Latina. 

This finding also indicates that the uncontrolled pay gap is due to Latinas working in lower-wage jobs. Latinas are much more likely than White women and men to have hourly jobs. And among employees with hourly jobs, Latinas are 2.5 times as likely as White men to earn less than $15 per hour. 

Latinas are also less likely to be in leadership positions compared to other intersectional groups, limiting their lifetime earning potential. Five percent of entry level positions are filled by Latinas, but only 3 percent of manager roles, 2 percent of senior manager and director roles, and 1 percent VP-level and above positions are filled by Latinas.

It’s time to close the pay gap for Latinas

At the rate we’re going, the pay gap for Latinas won’t close until the year 2197. Surely, we can do better than that. Every organization can make an impact by not only addressing internal pay equity, but hiring and promoting underrepresented people including Latinas into higher-paying roles to influence the external pay gap.

Here are a few ways to make real progress:

  • Create and update a formal compensation strategy. Build salary bands and job grades to guide you toward making more equitable compensation decisions. Keep them updated, especially now as salaries are rising amid the Great Resignation, and make adjustments to current team members’ salaries as new hire salaries increase.
  • Run regular pay equity analyses. Between hiring, exits, promotions, and raises, the state of your internal pay equity is constantly in flux. Regular pay equity analyses will help you spot inequities so you can address them. Just remember to look at intersectional groups as part of these analyses so you don’t miss discrepancies among the most impacted groups.
  • Promote and hire Latinas into leadership roles. Provide career development, mentoring, and sponsorship to more Latinas to help them progress into leadership roles. Track promotion rates and time to promotion by intersectional group so you can identify and address inequitable internal mobility practices.
  • Increase representation. Look at the population demographics for your company’s geographic area and compare it to the representation of Latinas at each job level within your team. Hire and promote Latinas where you identify low representation. This is especially impactful in higher-paying industries and job functions.

Final thoughts on gender pay equity

The pay gap for Latinas typically amounts to a loss of $2,409 every month, $28,911 every year, and $1,156,440 over a 40-year career. Assuming a Latina and her white, non-Hispanic male counterpart both begin work at age 20, the wage gap means a Latina would have to work until she is nearly 90 years old to be paid what a white, non-Hispanic man has been paid by age 60. That’s eight years beyond her life expectancy.

Even if your organization has reached internal pay equity, there may still be more you can do to close the external wage gap. This is particularly true for organizations in high-paying industries or with high-paying roles. Hiring and promoting more Latinas to increase representation at every level can help put an end to the unfair wage gap Latinas face.


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