Latinas contribute to California's communities, but more investment in them is needed, survey finds

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Saturday, August 13, 2022
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Latina women make up a significant segment of the California population. Now a new report is highlighting their contributions to many sectors, as well as the need for investing in organizations that empower Latina leaders.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) has served Latinas for more than 30 years.

"We witness every day the incredible work and leadership Latinas are displaying in our communities," said Helen Torres, HOPE chief executive officer.

To cement that reality with data, HOPE teamed up with the USC Dornsife Equity Research Institute.

"We wanted to ensure that others, and specifically in the philanthropic community, would also take note of this," Torres said.

The analysis highlights that Latinas make up nearly 20% of the California population, 39% of the women in the state and they're raising more than half of the children in California.

"If you want to ensure that our democracy is strong and that our economic wellbeing is secured for the future, you have to invest in Latinas," said Torres.

Organizations like HOPE carry out that mission.

Alumnae from its HOPE Leadership Institute are contributing to many sectors, from politics and bioscience to business.

Among those surveyed, 61% serve on a board or commission, 94% mentor at least one person and 80% credit HOPE with increasing their Latina network.

"We wanted to have a finding dedicated to the influence of a network such as this and using this as an example of what can be replicated in other parts of the state, for other groups of women," said Cynthia Moreno, data analyst II at the USC Dornsife Equity Research Institute.

Latinas in California have achieved greater political representation and are making history.

For example, Gov. Gavin Newsom just nominated justice Patricia Guerrero, the first Latina on the California Supreme Court as the next chief justice.

Still, many barriers for Latina leaders remain, from discrimination to wage disparities.

The USC analysis confirms the pay inequity Latinas in California experience.

"Makes it clear that, that individualistic story that education alone will make the difference is not sufficient," said Manuel Pastor, director of the USC Equity Research Institute. "That we need collective organizing to get rid of discrimination in labor markets."

The report also stresses the need for organizations that create pipelines and points out that Latinas overwhelmingly approach their work by building multiracial bridges.

"They're a leader for the community overall," said Torres.