News Column

Succeeding Everywhere: Hispanic Women Making Inroads

April 24, 2012

Richard Larsen, Deputy Managing Editor

As HispanicBusiness magazine celebrates the naming of Maria Goytisolo Hackley, managing director-financial institutions group for Citibank, as the magazine's 10th WOY (Woman of the Year), it seems appropriate to recall words written in April 2003 when the first WOY was selected.

"It seems women -- and Hispanic women in particular—are succeeding everywhere," Jesus Chavarria wrote in his Corner Office column.

Those words are as valid today as they were 10 years ago. On the following pages, you will meet some very remarkable Hispanic women—remarkable not merely because they are Hispanic or merely because they are women, but remarkable because of the successes they have achieved in their chosen careers and of the contributions they have made to their communities and the nation. They are the 10 elite Hispanic women who had been nominated for HispanicBusiness magazine's WOY 2012.

It has always been difficult to select just one Hispanic woman for the WOY honor, for each nominee embodies the multitude of talents and perspectives that exist among Hispanic women who become key players in upper management, become entrepreneurs or pursue careers in the public sector. This year's selection of elite women of influence breaks down to 60 percent from the private sector and 40 percent from the public sector

In addition to a featured profile on Ms. Hackley, who advises billion-dollar clients on capital structure and strategic financings, you will get to meet Air Force Brig. Gen. Linda R. Urrutia-Varhall, director of intelligence at the U.S. Southern Command, and Margaret "Meg" Rush, the vice president of consumer experience and e-marketing for WellPoint Inc. Rounding out the elite women of influence are Georgette Borrego Dulworth, with Chrysler Group LLC; Deirdre P. Connelly, with GlaxoSmithKline; Yanela C. Frias, with Prudential Financial Inc.; Bettina Inclan, with the Republican National Committee; Gloria Munoz, with the White House; Betty Rengifo Uribe, with California Bank & Trust; and Giselle E. Valera, with the U.S. Postal Service.

Gaining Ground

Opportunities for Hispanic women are expanding in both the private and public sectors. However, in some areas, Hispanic women haven't kept pace. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, updated March 1, 8.2 million Hispanic women age 16 years or older were employed in 2011, a slight increase from the 8.1 million Hispanic women employed in 2010. Of Hispanic women employed in 2011, only 89,000 held positions in management, business and financial operations occupations, a small increase from the 87,000 who held such positions in 2010. Other categories of women have a higher presence this occupation segment—whites, 147,000; blacks, 112,000; and Asian, 154,000.

But that could be about to change.

In the "Latinas Overcome Cultural and Economic Barriers To Grow Their Higher Education Numbers," published on The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine's website Feb. 23, 2009, contribution editor Mary Ann Cooper notes:

"The baby-boomer generation could be what boosts Latinas into management and executive positions as well as leadership positions in higher education." Data from the January issue of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Monthly Labor Review provides ample evidence of what's likely in store by the end of this decade. In the article "Labor force projections to 2020: a more slowly growing workforce," BLS economist Mitra Toossi forecasts that 39.1 million baby boomers, those born from 1946 through 1964, will be 56 to 74 years old in 2020. Many will have retired by then.

Crunching some of the data shows just how beneficial this will be to Hispanics, especially Hispanic women.

Mr. Toossi also forecasts that the population of Hispanics age 16 and older will be 46.1 million by 2020. Of that total, 30.5 million will be in the workplace and account for 18.6 percent of all workers.

"The Hispanic share of the labor force is expected to increase more than that of any other demographic group," Mr. Toossi wrote.

By the end of the decade, the BLS forecasts a total of 10.5 million jobs will be added to the economy. Of those, 7 million will go to Hispanics.

In a gender breakdown, the participation rate in the civilian labor force for Hispanic men will have decreased from 81.4 percent in 1990 to 75.9 percent by 2020. The participation rate of Hispanic women, on the other hand, will have grown from 53.1 percent in 1990 to 56.1 percent by 2020.

Education Key

"The key for Hispanic women to take advantage of these numbers is higher education," Ms. Cooper wrote.

The 10 elite women featured in this issue did just that. Each has an undergraduate degree. Five went on to earn master's degrees. One has a juris doctor. And one did postgraduate work in an advanced management program. Overall, enrollment in college by Hispanics has spiked, according to an August 2011 study by the Pew Hispanic Center. In October 2010, there were 1.8 million Hispanics age 18 to 24 attending college. That represents 15 percent of overall college enrollment.

Using date from the Census Bureau, the Pew Hispanic Center reported the population of Hispanics age 18 to 24 at 5.7 million in 2010. Of those, 4.1 million graduated high school and 1.8 million, or 43.9 percent of those who graduated high school, were in college.

Unfortunately, the Pew Hispanic Center did not break down Hispanic college attendance by gender.

Ms. Cooper sums up what several analysts looking at Hispanic women in the workforce have observed: "Today's Hispanic women in higher education and in the workplace have a similar set of challenges as they strive to overcome economic and social barriers to get an education and excel in the professional work force."

Among those are "poverty, early motherhood and a machismo culture," Ms. Cooper cited from the study "Paths to Baccalaureate" conducted by Brent Cejda, of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Sheldon Stick, of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, in 2006.

The obstacles might seem great, but there is increasing evidence that women can and will break through barriers to land high-level positions in either the public and private sector.

Young Hispanic women eager to get ahead in their chosen careers or looking for a career into which they can feel passionate about need look no further than the 10 elite women of influence featured in this issue of HispanicBusiness magazine, and all the elite women od influence who have been featured in April issues since the first Women of the Year was selected in 2003.

They represent the epitome of role models.

Source: (c) 2012. All rights reserved.

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters