Latina Equal Pay Day: What's driving the pay gap in Illinois?

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Latinas represent a growing part of the American workforce but they continue to lag behind other demographics in pay. Latina Equal Pay Day aims to raise awareness about what Latina workers are experiencing.

"It's critical that we are investing in solutions and programs to help ensure that they are equally paid," said Patricia Mota, the president and CEO of Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement.

According to 2019 Census Data, nationwide Latinas earned on average 57 cents for every dollar non-Hispanic white men took home. In Illinois, Latinas earned on average 53 cents for every dollar white men earned.

In Illinois Latinas' full-time earnings ranked at the bottom in 2019, taking home $32,458, compared to $40,212 for Black women, $48,326 for white women, $56,911 for Asian women and $61,676 thousand for white men.

"Many women in our community are front line essential workers," said Linda Tortolero, the president and CEO of Mujeres Latinas en Acción. " They have not had the opportunities or resources to receive an education or to have the job training skills they need. Many of them are also undocumented."

But those working to close the pay gap stress it impacts all sectors and professions.

"It's a misconception that the issue of pay equity is only one that affects women who are in higher income roles," said Sharmili Majmudar, the executive vice president of policy and organizational impact for Women Employed

There are laws on the books targeting the gender wage gap in Illinois. Women Employed recently received a grant to educate women about their rights.

"It's really critical that there is full understanding of what the law requires as well as what people can do if they do learn that they are getting paid less," Majmudar said.

Mota said the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement has programs to empower women to progress in their careers. She said it's important for Latina workers to advocate for themselves .

"We will accept the first offer that comes around. So that's part of the challenge is also creating awareness so that Latinas as they are going into the workforce, looking for meaningful

careers are asking what they deserve and what's owed to them," Mota said.
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