On Latina Equal Pay Day, wage gap persists

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Friday, December 9, 2022
On Latina Equal Pay Day, wage gap persists
EMBED <>More Videos

There's a long way to go for Hispanic and Latina women. Nationally, they make just 54 cents for every dollar a white man makes.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Among women of all races, Latina and Hispanic women are the most underpaid. It's a significant point to raise today: Latina Equal Pay Day.

But for Jessica DeJesus, every day is Equal Pay Day.

"We just can't make enough money," she said of the struggle Latina women face in the workforce.

It's now part of her mission to correct that inequity as she serves as president of Philadelphia's chapter of Prospanica, a nonprofit focused on support and development for Hispanic professionals.

"We empower Hispanic professionals to reach their educational, economic and social potential," said DeJesus.

There's a long way to go for Hispanic and Latina women. Nationally, they make just 54 cents for every dollar a white man makes. It's why December 8 is Latina Equal Pay Day because a Latina woman has to work all of 2021 and up to December 8 of this year to make what a white man made by December 31 of last year.

"We're just making up what they've been paid, what, 12 months ago," said DeJesus. "It's so unfair."

The typical woman in Philadelphia who had income in 2021 made $28,283. A man during that same time made $34,967. That's a 24% difference. And for Hispanic women, it's even more.

"We just expect that we're just not going to be paid that highly," said DeJesus. "And it is sad."

DeJesus says decades of systemic racism play a role along with employers only placing Latinas in certain jobs.

"We're overlooked for higher positions," she said. "We're mostly filling positions that are front-line positions like hospitality."

Those types of jobs took a big hit during the pandemic.

"Our Latina women have been resigning positions to take care of their families because they can't afford to work and still take care of their families," said DeJesus, "or positions like the front line positions have released Latinas from their work."

The state of the economy pushed Latina Equal Pay Day from October in 2021 to December in 2022-- showing how much harder it is for Latinas to catch up now. But Prospanica has ideas for how to level the playing field.

"We are seeking transparency from organizations to disclose how much Latinas are being paid," she said, adding that members of Prospanica often encourage Latina women to negotiate their salaries and wages.

Prospanica hopes to help more Hispanic women make the progress in the pursuit of equal pay.

"I think it's important that employers value the skill sets that these Latina women are bringing," said DeJesus.