Hispanic culture has always cast the role of women as wives, mothers, and homemakers for “La Familia,” their extended families. Work outside of the home, if any, was seen as supplemental to the job of the husband, who was the main breadwinner of the family.
Today, that’s changing.
Because of a transforming economy and society, more Hispanic women now provide substantial, if not total, financial support for their families. But that doesn’t mean they’ve been forced to abandon their traditional roles as family caretakers. In the 21st century, Latinas—like women of other demographic groups—now can have it “all” as professional career women and as homemakers. Why the change?
A World Online
Technology plays a big part in redefining Latinas’ roles today. Even before the confinements of COVID-19, remote jobs let parents to work from home. Indeed, telecommuting has become a way of life, for many middle- and higher-paid employees. Mothers and fathers can take care of their children in between “Zoom” conferences and enjoy a flexible work schedule at all times of day and night, structured around their households. Living in an online society also means new educational opportunities, so Latinas can participate in higher learning opportunities from the convenience of their homes, ultimately advancing their careers.
New Wage Structures
Almost without exception, women of all ethnic groups have historically earned less than their male counterparts, even among the highest-paid professional positions. Those glass ceilings are now being shattered. With more education, women’s income potential often exceeds that of men’s, replacing males as the primary family wage-earners. It may be the man who earns supplemental wages or is a stay-at-home dad. Essentially, economic necessity has re-written the “rules” about who works and who stays at home. And that has benefited Hispanic women.
An Emerging Culture
Similarly, shifts in Hispanic society have occurred. While there is still a strong preference among older Hispanic generations to observe traditional male/female family roles, conditions have brought about a gradual, but steady, change. Younger Hispanic males are finding a place in the direct care of their children and in running their households but are still supported by the traditional family structure that allows extended family—grandparents, aunts, uncles—to assist in the child-raising duties. So Hispanic women do not feel guilty about reaching for their career goals.
Change offers Latinas the best of times. The transition to the new reality may not be easy, but it’s a far cry from the world of their mothers and grandmothers.