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Hispanic Working Mom’s Wage Gap Is Real: Let’s Talk About The Facts And How To Thrive

Hispanic mom in the US

Finding a work like balance in the US by Bertha Guzman

March 31, 2012 

That day I thought I knew exactly what my life would look like, well kind of. Everything seemed perfect (according to what at 22 years old considered perfection LOL). I was graduating from law school with a grade Cum Laude and the same day was the graduation of who was my then-boyfriend (and now husband) as a petroleum engineer. A powerful professional combination, in almost any country in the world. 

During the first years of my career, everything seemed to be going well: from employee to entrepreneur, consultant of Oil & Gas companies, university professor, and with my husband building his career alongside me in the largest oil company in the country. 

Yet the political, economic, and social crisis in Venezuela had reached such unprecedented levels, it became impossible for us to continue living there. We needed to rethink our lives and take radical decisions that would allow us to achieve our dreams. 

The breaking point was when I couldn’t freely exercise my profession, because of my political inclination. I was openly against the regime, every day it was increasingly difficult, and I even found myself needing to defend my clients through other attorneys because if the judges found out that I was defending and representing those companies, they would run the risk of losing several lawsuits- simply because I refused to submit myself to the ideals of a decadent regime.

After a couple of difficult years, not only economically but also emotionally, we decided to leave Venezuela, however, our first destination wasn’t the United  States, but Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Those years in Rio de Janeiro were years of growing, learning a new language, and culture, as well as discovering how to position ourselves in the workforce, without friends, family, or connections. Our lives changed forever and we went back to dreaming again. 

I know, I know, this article is about diversity in the United  States but I would not be able to give you my real perspective if I did not get a little insight into why I left my country and what happened in Brazil. If you don’t know my background, how can you understand me?

June 06, 2020 

A Plot Twist.

 ‘’You have been randomly selected for the  U.S. Diversity Visa Program.” That was shocking, after several years of trying with no success, we made it through the process.

During the process, I confess we lost hope several times. At long last, on June 14, 2021, our visas were approved and we landed in the  U.S. on June 24 of that same year. Plot twist, it wasn’t just my husband and me anymore, we were 3 now because I was 30 weeks pregnant. 

On that day, June 24, I became part of a minority: Hispanic mom in the U.S., and even when it’s hard, I’m proud of that; because my origins, my culture, and my experiences made me into who I am today. 

And still, I can’t deny that it brings great challenges, consequences, and responsibilities.  

We have gone from being small to being a voice that is just beginning to be heard. It’s amazing how in a country as big and diverse as the U.S.,  we can celebrate and be proud of our heritage. Though it hasn’t been easy and, honestly, there is still a long way to go. 

On that note, I would like to give you some highlights:

Hispanic Women Have The Largest Pay Gap.

It’s not just having the conversation about inclusion, but about conditions that dignify the work of Hispanic women, regardless of their level of education.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, for every dollar a non-Hispanic white male earns, a Hispanic woman earns 57 cents comparatively.

Education At First Glance Seems To Be The Root Of The Problem, But This Goes Deeper.

Statistically, Hispanic women have less college education than other groups; however, the problem goes further because we are facing a wage gap in all work positions.

I can’t fail to mention that there is also a gap between the Hispanic man and the White American man, which shows that this is happening not only because of our gender but also because of our race.

7% Of Hispanic Women Dropped Out Or Were Laid Off During The Pandemic, According To Data From The U.S. Department of Labor.

Many were fired and others decided to leave their jobs to take care of the household during a time when there was a total absence of childcare. 

However, many have struggled to come back to the labor force, because the salary doesn’t compensate for the costs of transportation and childcare. 

An Open Secret. 

We need to open the discussion about other implications of this wage gap, such as:

It seems that even these days women feel embarrassed to talk about this. It’s an open secret and people are pretending that they don’t know about this. 

What happens with the career of the Hispanic woman who stays 2+ years at home to take care of her baby and doesn’t feel prepared to leave their child in daycare or worse, because she can’t afford it?  What happens with the career of an immigrant that doesn’t have the family support that allows her to return 100% to the workforce?

The Myth Of Work-Life Balance. 

We can have it all (even being Hispanic), however, the first step to leaving the stigma behind it’s accepting that we will not be able to develop all our roles 100% in a single day, and that’s ok. We need to feel peace about ourselves and stay focused on the greater goal.

How To Compensate For The Gap That Motherhood Leaves In Our Career Path?

We need to take personal action to conquer those spaces that will allow us to serve as an example, inspiration, and, above all, raise our voices. 

These 3 tips will help you to be prepared

  1. Keeping Update. Yes, I know it’s hard… with children at home there is a lot we must do and formal education often goes out of budget. But it’s extremely important to not lose track of what’s happening in the world and your field. What you can do is consume quality information in blogs, podcasts, and through content from the references of your sector.
  2. Do you plan to stay at home for an extended time? Initiate a small project that you can manage from home and that allows you to continue putting into practice the necessary skills for your professional life. Document the entire process and achievements. 
  3. Work on your personal brand: Showing up through publications on social media like LinkedIn or your blog will be of great help both to keep you updated, as well to start the active job search again. 

I would love to tell you that as a Hispanic, immigrant, and working-from-home mom of a one-year-old boy I don’t have ups and downs, or impostor syndrome. I would love to share that I’ve found the balance between personal and professional life and that I’m not afraid of being discriminated against. I won’t say any of that because I understand that this path takes time and we all need to walk through it together. 

I’m also part of the statistics. I decided to stay home, being an entrepreneur, and seek that balance between building financial freedom, a career, and my son’s naps Yet, I did it because I have options, I have support … but I know that’s not the reality for all Hispanic moms. There are more who do it because they are forced, they have no other option, they feel that they won’t be taken seriously and there aren’t any job opportunities, and also because they are afraid of being discriminated against. 

We need to release our fears, but at the same time, Hispanic moms need options, regardless of their level of education. At the same time, we must work to ensure more educational programs and flexible, well-paid jobs for them. Each career starts from different places. I know I’m talking about the benefit of advanced education and I can’t compare myself to a mom who had to leave her country in extreme poverty, without even reaching a high school degree. And that is precisely the struggle: equality and equity. Every personal story is unique, however, to be written under the terms of its protagonist: it’s necessary paper and pencil, and that’s the goal.

The cards are on the table, the discussion about inclusion is open and we have a huge responsibility: we need to make these ideas become a reality by occupying meaningful spaces and demonstrating that Hispanics have a lot to contribute, that we have arrived here with a baggage full of dreams and, desire to work, to make a difference, to create a better world and achieve our dreams.

Every day my mission goes beyond working, it’s contributing to creating a path of true inclusion and true empowerment that allows my child (and yours) to tell a different story about immigration. 

Bertha Guzman

Marketing Strategist focused on helping professionals of diverse fields and entrepreneurs to develop their paths on Social Media, through the power of writing and speaking.  

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