Commission Shines Light on Latina Pay Gap that Lags White Females


Nearly 40 years after its formation, the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women is still fighting for gender equality, especially for the Latina population, which falls behind white males – and even white females – by a significant amount.
Teresa C. Younger, executive director of the commission commonly known as PCSW, said, “It will take us until 2075 to get pay equity for women. Is that acceptable? For Latina women it will take even longer.”
Younger said a recent study shows that white females make 75 cents, on average, to every dollar owned by a white male. Latinas are more than 20 percent behind their white female counterparts with wages averaging 62 cents to a white male’s dollar. Younger could only laugh when first asked when pay equity might arrive for Latinas. “If we think that through,” she added, “what’s happening to these communities of color? What does [that inequity] look like over a lifetime?”
She doesn’t have statistics particular to Latinas but Younger can quote numbers on male vs. female. Over a career, the gap ranges from $750,000 to $2 million when Social Security and pension payments are factored in. “Then there’s also the wealth gap,” she explained, where less Latinas have jobs with paid sick time for example. White males are paid when they miss work while their Latina counterparts, already earning less money, earn none because of the lack of sick pay.
Pay inequity is one of the driving factors behind an upcoming conference, “Be the Change You Want To See.” It takes place Sept. 15 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford and is part of an ongoing buildup called Vision 2020 that will commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.
Politically, women are lagging behind both in Connecticut and on the federal level. Less than 30 percent of office holders in the state are women. That number historically has stayed above 30 percent. Also, only 17 percent of Congress is female, which is lowest in the world Younger said.
If women aren’t strong politically, they can’t address issues like pay inequity and others problems. Younger stressed that “Be the Change You Want to See,” which is sponsored by UPS, Penn Mutual and the New Haven Community Foundation among others, is not about giving the expected 250 participants the answers. “The whole purpose of the conference is to say here are resources and lets start asking the questions of ourselves … so we have real results by 2020.”
Michelle Noehren, PCSW events and special projects manager, is spearheading the conference. In spite of women’s advances over the last four decades, she said, networking and educational events like this might be more important than ever. “I think that everyone in general can always use more empowerment and push to be active,” Noehren said.
Each participant at the daylong conference will leave with an action card, Noehren added. The cards will encourage them, among other activities, to register to vote, actually vote, and research info about candidates seeking office. “A lot of it is things related to the importance of voting and being involved in the local community,” Noehren said. Younger added that the local level is the incubator for change at the national level.
More information on the Sept. 15 conference, which is free and includes a box lunch, is available at the PCSW website. Registration is limited with more than 250 women expected to attend. U.S. Rep. Rose DeLauro (D-3 CT) will be the kickoff speaker. State Comptroller Kevin Lembo will discuss changes to federal and state health care laws. Breakout sessions will be held, too, on various topics.