Among UT grads, Latina women earn less than white men

Maria Mendez

Public relations senior Joy Puder worries she will not earn what her white male counterparts earn after graduation.

“A Latina woman, to make the same amount of money a white man does in a full year, has to work the whole year and up to November just to get what he does,” said Puder, who is Latina herself. “She has to work, like, twice as hard.”

Latinas in the U.S. earn on average 54 cents for every $1 a white male earns, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Last Thursday marked Latina Equal Pay Day, the day an average Latina would catch up to a white male’s yearly earnings from 2016.

The national gender pay gap consists of women earning 80 cents for every $1 a white male makes regardless of industry, according to the National Women’s Law Center. 

“In general, Latinas are going to be (some) of the lowest earning individuals by race and gender,” said Megan Fasules, an author of a 2017 report about earnings for UT System graduates.

Fasules said the gender pay gap among UT System college graduates often results from differences in the fields women tend to be attracted to for majors and careers. For example, more women tend to go into education, which is a lower-earning field compared to the more male-dominated science, technology, engineering and math fields.

“A big factor is what women choose to major in,” Fasules said. “We tend to have different interests than men, and, unfortunately, our interests tend to earn us less money.”

The 54 cent pay gap for Latinas represents the average across all states, but in Texas, Latinas earn 44 cents for every $1 a white male makes, according to a 2017 National Partnership for Women and
Families report.

“In the nation as a whole, Latinas, once they get a bachelor’s degree … do tend to have higher median earnings,” Fasules said. “In Texas, that’s not the case.”

According to the study, Latina UT System graduates earned 75 percent of what white male graduates earned in the three years following graduation. The pay gap between males and females exists among UT graduates of all races. When compared to Latino graduates, Latina graduates earn 93 percent of their pay. White women earn 83 percent of what white male graduates do.

Lecturer Victoria DeFrancesco Soto said fixing the general pay gap can be hard because women also lose wages when they become mothers. She said Latinas tend to usually have more children, widening the pay gap.

“The truth is that Latinas, in general, have a lower educational attainment than other groups, and we also tend to have more children,” DeFrancesco said.

Fasules said providing students with more information about their potential earnings in different fields could help increase the number of Latinas and females in higher-earning fields. UT students can explore earnings by career through the online tool SeekUT.

Puder, who is graduating in December, said she wishes she knew more about entry-level wages when she began her search for public relations jobs.

“It’s important for me, because I’m a woman of color, and I want to get paid the same because I work just as hard as white men,” Puder said.