Op-Ed: Latinas In the Workforce - Where Are They?

Posted: Apr 21 2014

Do you ever look around at work and wonder where the females are? Or ok, if you do - how about where the diversity is?

I do.

Did you know 9% of Latinas 25 and older had at least a bachelors degree in 2000? And the better news is that in 2011 the number had risen to 14%. (This is according to the U.S. Census) Also, 23% of Hispanic women are now in professions such as science, business, health care, law and education vs. 12% of Hispanic men.

These numbers are good news for Hispanic females in the U.S. as well as for their ability to obtain increased incomes and higher level positions in the workplace. And both Hispanic men and women think increased Hispanic females participating in the workforce is a good thing. In a survey done by AmericanProgress.org, 87% of Hispanic females and 82% of Hispanic men felt it was good to have more women participating in the economy. (Contrast that to 77% of the general population.)

I still wonder though sometimes, where are the women. In a look around a lot of my past jobs, I’ve often wondered, where are the Hispanic women – and in many cases – where is the diversity in general? So in seeing the above numbers I feel we still have a ways to go.

I wonder why we have some shows who are portraying Latinas in typically more stereotyped ways (Devious Maids), yet have the same backers/producers of that show speaking out in to promote Hispanic women in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) careers. Confusing to say the least.  It feels like we are going backwards in some ways – at least with some of the way Hispanic females are portrayed by Hollywood. (Why not a show about Hispanic females in Silicon Valley? Is this too unbelievable for Hollywood?)

Even Oprah has talked about how she too will on occasion look around a boardroom and notice she's the only diverse female.

Regardless, with the above numbers showing growth of Hispanic women in the workforce, and with Hispanics showing a much lower concern that the general population of any impact growing up without a stay-at-home parent – I’m looking forwards to seeing not only increasing numbers of Latinas gaining advanced degrees – but also participating and experiencing growth in the workforce.

Thoughts?  What have you experienced?

-Zee Diaz

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