Eva Longoria tells CEOs and bosses today to give Latinas equal pay with other groups. She’s rehearsing a well-used script, but it’s not founded in reality.
Longoria calls out today for being “Latin Equal Pay Day” or the day when the average amount that Latinas earn equals the average white men earned in the previous year. As she put it: “In order to earn what a white man earned in 2016, a Latina must work that entire year—plus 10 extra months in 2017.”
That sounds terrible if true, but it isn’t.
Longoria isn’t an average Latina for one thing. Longoria was a cast member on ABC’s long-running hit “Desperate Housewives” and she’s been the face of L’Oreal Paris and other brands which all earned her an estimated fortune of $35 million. Kuddos to her for amassing more than 99.9 percent of U.S. men.
Yet, Longoria tells Hispanic women that (1) because they are women, and (2) because they are Hispanic, they are earning 54 cents of every dollar that white men earn (the standard to which all women should compare themselves apparently).
The Hispanic gender pay gap is an iteration of the overall gender wage gap — the difference between what men and women earn on average. Latinas aren’t averages and neither are women.
The oft-cited Bureau of Labor statistic that women earn 79 cents of what men earn compares the average salaries of all men and women with fulltime jobs. This does not control for factors such as how many hours each week men and women work, age, occupation, job title, education, and seniority.
The pay gap also ignores the industries where men and women work. In some jobs such as teacher’s aides, social media professionals, social workers, and communications associates women earn more than men.
And then there’s the impact of motherhood on the pay differences, which the New York Times explains rests on women not getting raises and promotions or taking less demanding positions in exchange for more flexibility. Young men and women face little or no gap in pay early in their careers, but that changes at around age 30 and persists.
Longoria and others want women (of color) to think of themselves as victims in the workplace. They’d have us to believe that we have absolutely no control and that gender and race discrimination is rampant in the U.S. workplace.
The 2-4 cent wage difference between men and women, which may be wider for women of color, may be attributed to discrimination. Where possible we must call it out and prosecute that discrimination. The EEOC is a great place to do so.
However, we set up our young Latinas, black girls, and girls for lower expectations when we condition them to believe that they are victims of perceived discrimination.
Let’s motivate them to pursue education and good-paying careers as well as encourage them to go after opportunities or create their own as small business owners.