Latinas Most Affected by the Pay Gap

Full-time mother Rosalín Vázquez says she would have preferred to have had the chance to alternate motherhood with work (Photo via El Diario).

Full-time mother Rosalín Vázquez says low wages made it impossible for her to alternate motherhood with work. (Photo via El Diario)

As President Obama signed two executive orders to promote equal pay for women and Republicans blocked legislative efforts to close the salary gap with men, El Diario/La Prensa published a series of reports highlighting that Latinas are the most affected by the pay gap.

An editorial on Tuesday lauded Obama’s efforts.

For Latinas, these presidential initiatives are one more step in getting closer not only to men’s salaries, but to the salaries of other women: Latinas receive median weekly earnings of $541, even lower than the $722 earned by white women and the $606 earned by African-American women, according to IWPR data.

On average, women who work full time earn only 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns. The gap is even worse for Latinas and African-American women. An analysis by the National Partnership for Women & Families (NPWF) of a Census Bureau report found that the median yearly pay for women with a full-time job is $11,084 lower than for men. The situation is particularly serious for the more than 15.1 million families for which women are the only breadwinners. And 31 percent of these families are living below the poverty line. (…)

It is a priority and healthy for our society to offer equal pay that contributes to the progress of families in the U.S. We hope all companies around the country, both public and private, follow President Obama’s example.

El Diario’s coverage of the issue has also exposed that low wages and the absence of paid maternity leave – a benefit common in most industrialized countries – have forced many mothers to abandon their jobs.

This story by Cristina Loboguerrero focuses on two local Latinas who have left the workforce to become full-time mothers:

Even though Rosalín Vázquez, 38, does not regret quitting school and her job to take care of her son, she says she would have preferred to have had the chance to alternate motherhood with work.

“It is not easy to pay for a nanny when you work minimum wage,” said Vázquez, a native of the Dominican Republic, who moved to the Bronx when she was 18. When she first had her child three years ago, she tried to continue working as a housekeeper while studying Business Administration at Bronx Community College.

Vázquez took care of her baby for five months, and then tried to combine her job with her studies, but the money was not enough. “It is very hard for a single woman to raise a child and study at the same time. Nannies are very expensive, and nobody would take care of him like I do.”

Vázquez was paying close to $300 per week on day care, so she decided to quit school and stay home. “I started taking care of other children so I could stay home with my own while making a little money.” (…)

A low income, combined with the high price of child care, also forced Mexican María Rojas, 37, to stop working and stay at home full time for the past six years.

At the end of each week, half of the $300 she made as a factory worker in Brooklyn was used to pay for a nanny for her daughter and son, who are now 13 and 7.

“My husband decided that it was best for me to retire because I ended up with almost no money at the end of the week and I was leaving my children’s care in someone else’s hands,” said Rojas.

Mrs. Rojas later had two more children, now 3 and 1 year old, and they all live off her husband’s salary. He is a carpenter.

Rojas describes their financial situation as “tight.” “It is hard to live on only one paycheck. But, if I worked, we would not have enough to pay for a nanny for the two youngest and someone else to pick up my 7-year-old from school,” she says.

“I do hope to return to work when my youngest one starts school,” added Mrs. Rojas.

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