Single Post

Latinas in the U.S.: The State of Our Union

Educated Latina

Every year, the President of the United States gives a State of the Union Address. In it, he recaps where the country is and what their plans are for

As a community, of women, Latinas in pursuit of higher education, in order for us to uplift our community, we have to know where we stand.

The Center for American Progress published the Fact Sheet: The State of Latinas in the U.S. by Mareshah Jackson in November of 2013. Although the report is several years old, it still gives us a snapshot of where we are.

Educational Attainment

The level of educational attainment for Latinas has risen in the past few years, yet it still sits at a level significantly lower than that of white women.

  • College graduation rates for Latinas have increased faster than any other group of women.
  • Graduation rates for Latinas were at 31.3 percent in 2008, still significantly lower than graduation rates for white women, at 45.8 percent.
  • Latinas hold only 7.4 percent of the degrees earned by women, though they constituted 16 percent of the female population in 2012.
  • Only 3 percent of Latina women are represented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, fields, while women in total make up 24 percent of the STEM workforce.
  • Latina women represented 49 percent of all Latinos who matriculated into medical school in 2004. From 1980 to 2004, the number of Latina medical school graduates per year jumped from 93 to 485.

Economic Security

Latina women make disproportionately less than their male and non-Hispanic white counterparts. These disparities are leaving a growing portion of our population more vulnerable to poverty and its implications.

  • Latina women make 55 cents to the dollar when compared to white, non-Hispanic males. In comparison, white women make 78.1 cents to the same dollar.
  • Latina women make 88 percent of their male counterparts’ annual full-time earnings.
  • Latina women earn $549 per week, compared with white women’s median earnings of $718.
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 32.2 percent of Latina women work in the service sector, compared with only 20 percent of white women, and service workers are almost 20 percent less likely to have either paid sick leave or retirement benefits.
  • According to a 2010 study, the median household wealth of single Latina women is $120, compared with single white women’s median household wealth of $41,500. Latina women with children have zero median wealth.
  • From 2007 to 2012, the share of Latina women earning at or below minimum wage more than tripled.
  • The number of working-poor Latina women is more than double that of white women, at 13.58 percent, compared with 6.69 percent.
  • Poverty rates for Latina women, at 27.9 percent, are close to triple those of white women, at 10.8 percent.
  • In 2012, the poverty rate for Latina women overall was 27.9 percent, compared with the rate for non-Hispanic white women at 10.8 percent.
  • In Latina households, about 4 in 10 working wives were the primary breadwinners for their families, according to a 2010 CAP report. This doubles the rate from 1975.
  • Latina women are 69 percent more likely to be incarcerated than white women, according to a 2007 report. In 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union asserted that incarceration particularly affects Latinas and black women as they are often the primary caregivers for their children and are also disproportionately victimized.
  • Latinas saw a 14 percent increase in labor-force participation from 1970 to 2007, a notable rise.

Lucy Flores, Nevada Politician (Photo : Ethan Miller/Getty Images) via

Political leadership

While Latinas have a rich history of leadership in their communities, they are underrepresented at all levels of government.

  • Today, only 9 of the 98 women in Congress are Latina; all serve in the House of Representatives. Five of those nine women represent California.
  • Only one Latina has ever served as mayor of one of the nation’s 100 largest cities.
  • From 1996 to 2010, the number of Latina elected officials increased by 105 percent.
  • In 2010, there were 1,858 Latina elected officials.
  • Latinas comprised 32.9 percent of all Latino state senators in 2010; women as a whole only represented 22 percent of state senate seats.
  • Of 1,789 female state legislators, 62 are Latina. Latinas in this position represent 22 states.
  • Of the 73 women serving in statewide elective executive offices, six are Latina. Five of those six represent New Mexico.


Catch the rest of the report here.


How are we doing according to you? Let us know in the comments below. 


Leave a comment