Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

How Latinas Can Bridge the Pay Gap

Learning the best ways to negotiate salary can help women earn equal pay

spinner image illustration of a man and a woman on a balance

Victoria Walker did not mince words. The journalist interrupted her vacation several months ago to jump on Twitter and offer advice to anyone interested in her former job as a travel writer: “You should ask for no less than $115K, a signing bonus and a relocation bonus if you’re moving to NYC. In full transparency, I was at 107k. I believe being transparent is one way to achieve equity in media,” she wrote.

Until recently, discussing salaries was taboo. But women are increasingly demanding their right to equal pay for equal work, from the Oscars stage to the courtroom.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

There has been progress, but the gender pay gap remains. In the United States, women make an average of 83 cents for every dollar paid to men, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This gap is even wider when race and ethnicity are factored in, and Latina workers bear the brunt of the disparity. For every dollar made by non-Hispanic white men, Latina women are paid 55 to 57 cents, compared to 67 cents for non-Hispanic Black women and 83 cents for non-Hispanic white women, according to the data.

But even with the deck so stacked against them, women have tools at their disposal to help them secure equal pay. Organizations and companies have taken note as well. 

What should you know about the pay gap?

The path to an equitable future

The next Hispanic Leadership Summit will bring together renowned labor union leader Dolores Huerta, former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and a group of congresswomen to discuss best practices for closing the pay gap.

This gathering, to be held at United Nations headquarters in New York City on Dec.7-8, will coincide with Latina Equal Pay Day. Sponsored in part by AARP, it is aimed at proposing specific, coordinated actions to map out a path toward economic equity. The agenda also features the presentation of an app and an educational campaign, which, according to Romo Edelman, are part of a toolbox that will include tips on how to negotiate fair pay and highlight your accomplishments, along with other useful information.

Claudia Romo Edelman, founder of the We Are All Human Foundation, says we must start with the basics: recognize the problem and its nuances. 

“We Latinos don’t even realize what a huge problem we have with low pay,” the equity advocate told AARP from New York City. “We need to call more attention to the problem. Make it a bigger issue for the community and for workers.”

According to the data, the more education Latinas have and the higher up the corporate ladder they rise, the wider their pay gap. A Census Bureau survey in 2021 found that Latina women in managerial positions make $58,596 per year on average, compared to $91,465 for their non-Hispanic white counterparts. This 36 percent gap is less pronounced at lower-level jobs, narrowing to 15 percent for Latinas employed as teachers or cashiers. 

This need to shine a light on the issue led to the launching of Latina Equal Pay Day, which falls on Dec. 8 this year. According to Romo Edelman, the observation will help identify solutions and map out a common path toward closing the pay gap. The date symbolically marks how long it would take a Latina to make the same amount of money as a non-Hispanic white man. In other words, a Latina woman who is paid about 57 percent as much as a non-Hispanic white man has to work for 23 months to make what that non-Hispanic white male counterpart makes in one year for the same work.

What are companies doing about this?  

As part of their efforts to improve their work environment and attract new talent, companies have begun to adopt internal practices to counter wage inequality and foster the growth of women within their management structure.

Work & Jobs

AARP Job Board

Search job opportunities for experienced workers

See more Work & Jobs offers >

“In senior management, there needs to be a serious conversation and an alignment on the importance of inclusion and equity in the organization. These are not just pretty words. It’s an exercise to really pin down how that vision will be put into practice and what metrics we’re going to look at on a regular basis to ensure that we’re living up to that vision,” says Olga Sánchez Ramos, associate director of human resources for Harvard University Information Technology.

This type of regular assessment can help identify the factors holding women back in their professional development, including what’s known as the “broken rung.” This practice of favoring men for supervisory positions is the greatest barrier women face in moving from entry-level jobs to leadership posts, says Sánchez Ramos. 

This bias makes it easier for men to find their way into management positions, she points out. Women apply for these promotions, but for every 100 men who occupy a manager’s chair, only 87 minority women do so.  

“We have to look at all of our promotion practices — how are we choosing people and who are we choosing,” she said.

Transparency in pay is another useful tool for closing wage gaps. This transparency should not be ad hoc, such as what Walker did in sharing her salary figures via Twitter. Rather, information on salaries, pay ranges and benefits should be freely available to employees.

“There needs to be a culture where information on job postings and pay is made public. At least the starting salary, since the law allows for pay differences based on seniority, job position and education,” says Ariadna Godreau Aubert, a human rights attorney and the founder of Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico.

States including Maryland, Rhode Island, Washington, Colorado and New York have joined in this move toward equality by passing laws on transparency in pay. At the federal level, efforts are underway to reduce the pay gap. The Paycheck Fairness Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and is now pending in the Senate.

But the efforts do not end there.

spinner image membership-card-w-shadow-192x134

Join today and enjoy all AARP has to offer — including the AARP Job Board, a job search tool for experienced workers, a free resume review, plus savings on resume writing packages and online learning courses to boost your skills.

Sánchez Ramos and Romo Edelman say that companies should provide training to their human resources staff and managers to prevent unconscious biases in hiring and promotion.

What can you do?

Is there something we can do, at an individual level, to achieve fair pay? Here are some tips.

• Prepare for the interview. Online training programs and courses can help you fine-tune your salary negotiation skills. You need to be prepared to ask for fair compensation and back it up by explaining the education and qualifications you bring to the table, says Sánchez Ramos.

• Strengthen your leadership skills. Romo Edelman recommends using programs that offer mentorship and teach self-advocacy skills that will help you present your talents and qualifications in the best possible light. That way, you can feel confident and dispel any myths that may be holding you back.

• Know your legal rights. Many states, for example, have laws that bar employers from asking you about your current pay or your salary history.

• Do your research. Every trade or profession has its own compensation range, which may vary by state. Use hiring websites like Indeed and Payscale to get an idea of what might be a fair salary for you. Look up recent articles online about current salaries, market trends and inflation so you’ll be ready to discuss the issue. 

• Show your employer what you’re worth. Older workers not only bring knowledge, they also provide stability — which is highly valued by companies — as well as an ability to teach and guide newer employees.

If you show up well prepared and confident in your skills, training and what you have to offer any company, you’ll be more likely to win a promotion and receive fair and equitable pay for your work.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?