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Many Latinas feel pressure to support their families or to succeed at work, study says

Vlada Karpovich.

Latinas in the U.S. continue to experience the same cultural and gender role expectations as previous generations, according to a report by the Pew Research Center.

The study found that a majority of Latinas say that expectations to do housework, be beautiful and start families are among the top pressures for Hispanic women in the U.S.

Some Latinas have grown up with traditional cultural values carried over from Latin America, said Sahana Mukherjee, associate director for the race and ethnicity research team and one of the report's authors.

“One thing that we want to really highlight is that many Latinas, 77% of them, have recent immigrant connections, which produces unique cultural pressures that they might feel from family, while also balancing the pressures they feel to perform in their jobs and be successful in their careers,” Mukherjee said.

Younger Latinas face more pressures at work and at home than older Latinas, Mukherjee said.

Yajaira Rios, 27, graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 2022 and currently holds a full-time job. She’s also been in a long-term relationship for 10 years. It was difficult for her to explain to her Mexican parents that she doesn’t feel prepared to get married and have children.

“It was something that I had to kind of break that cycle of, like, you have to get married before you move out. And it was definitely something that was very difficult, especially with my mom and my dad, because they were not used to that. But it definitely does make it a lot harder, just being Latina in general, because there are those cultural norms,” Rios said.

The study says that 62% of Latinas say that Hispanic women in general face pressures to be beautiful, including dressing nicely, wearing makeup, doing hair and nails.

“Growing up my parents, my mom, specifically, she would kind of say like, ‘Hey, you know, like, take care of yourself. Make sure that you look a certain way.’ Like my mom, she always wears heels to all events and stuff. And that's something that I realized that I unconsciously do,” Rios said.

However, the report found that 88% of Latinas are extremely or very satisfied, or somewhat satisfied with their lives.

Despite the challenges of being a first-generation Latina, Rios said she feels fulfilled in both her career and relationships. She gets joy in spending time with loved ones, traveling, and running.

Maria joined KUNR Public Radio in December 2022 as a staff reporter. She is interested in stories about underserved communities, immigration, arts and culture, entertainment, education and health.