Thursday, Nov. 2 isn’t a national holiday, but it warrants recognition for a reason that isn’t exactly worth celebrating.
It’s Latina Women’s Equal Pay Day, the approximate day to which the average Hispanic woman must work in 2017 to make the same amount of money the average man did during 2016.
Indeed, according to calculations based on U.S. Census data, the average Latina is paid about 46 percent less than her average white male counterpart.
That’s pretty stark, especially when considering how the gap is much wider for Latinas than for white and even African American women, who mark their respective Equal Pay Days on April 4 and July 31.
To be fair, understanding the wage gap is a lot more complicated than it sounds.
Critics are mostly correct that the wage gap doesn’t mean a man and a woman with the exact same experience and skills in the exact same job, working the exact same hours are paid dramatically different salaries. Fixing that type of disparity, theoretically, should be easy.
The truth is there are a lot of factors that contribute to the difference in pay between sexes and ethnicities, including the type of job someone has — something contingent on education, training, experience and opportunity.
When we think about how all these public policy issues impact wages, the wage gap becomes a much tougher nut to crack.
Quality child care, for example, is an important factor for working moms. While members of the Hispanic community are less likely to use child care for cultural reasons, accessibility and availability are issues, too.
Similarly, completing high school and earning higher degrees lead to better jobs and higher salaries. The Hispanic high school drop-out rate is declining, and Hispanics are getting more post-secondary education than ever before — great progress for sure — but as a population, they still lag behind other groups in obtaining a four-year-degree.
That’s why any discussion about the wage gap, especially as it relates to the Hispanic community, should start with ideas for how we can increase opportunity, improve access to education and training and enhance support for working moms.
But as those ideas gain strength and become actionable plans, the fight should for equal pay shouldn't be put on the back burner.
Both are equally important.