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Black, Latina women learn to navigate the Gen Z years


Gen Z issues explored

Generation Z women of color face a myriad of challenges, one of which is being recognized for their worth be it professionally, socially or politically. They have a different experience that merits a resonate “voice” in society which at once commands both attention and respect.

Being a Gen Z woman of color has proven to have its own set of obstacles and hurdles that must be navigated to be successful. There are plenty of modern issues that are of importance to women in this age bracket. Issues that plague both Brown and Black young women range from personal to issues in the workplace, these issues affect both their livelihood and self-image. 

Generation Z, in particular, appears to have a more entrepreneurial drive and more open mindedness towards a lot of issues, as opposed to Millennial Black and Latina women. Gen Z Americans are more racially diverse than any prior generation. Gen Z is more prone to be more educated, more ambitious, and more attuned to the changing facets of society. Common Gen Z issues include racial discrimination in the workplace, gender pay differences, and women taking unpaid internships that lead to them making less money in future years. 

An additional issue faced among Black and Latina Gen Z members is not being taken seriously in the workplace due to their age. Often, there is a misperception that age and tenure are necessary to be competent at one’s job. This can result in being called pet names, coworkers focusing on looks, or being mistaken for someone younger. This, along with gender bias, makes it appear that there isn’t a set age for working women. Research demonstrated that women managers under 30 are more likely to see bias than older managers. 

Sexual harassment is a source of concern for Black and Latina women from both Generation Z and Millennials alike. Women of color are less likely to report sexual harassment in the workplace according to an article entitled “Disparity in Discrimination: A Study on the Experience of Minority Women in the Workplace.” Negative and demeaning stereotypes of both Black and Latina women contribute to exacerbate problems in the workplace. According to the article, Black women also face salary inequalities in the workplace. Additionally, Latina women suffer from internalized racism that that oftenleads them to believe that they are unable to advance professionally. They are also making 46 cents less per dollar than White women. 

More issues in the workplace are present amongst Black and Brown Gen Z. Members of Gen Z certainly have their priorities in check, with careers and social injustice being at the top of their list. COVID-19 took a toll on many people at the time, and Gen Z wasn’t exempt. According to the article “Exploring Gen Z Women’s New Perspectives on Life, Career, Injustice, Social Media, and Brands,” 32% of Gen Z feel their lives have been put on hold due to the fallout of COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, six in 10 Gen Z women said they have been discriminated against due to their racial backgrounds.

Statistics show that 37% percent of Gen Z women broke up with a product brand because of rising prices, 27% due to racial discrimination, 21% because of product variables (changes in quality), 20% based on labor practices (discrimination in hiring, hourly pay) and 16% due to sustainability practices. Many Gen Z members envision a growing and ever-evolving career as they grow older. Their goals include: higher education, financial independence, traveling, and buying a home.They are also open about confronting anxieties. Mental health is a priority amongst Gen Z members as well, with the pandemic encouraging them to seek more mental health stability. 

A 2021 Harris Poll found that 58% of Gen Z women of color place more importance on early career choices rather than getting married and starting a family. Gen Z members are more entrepreneurial and educated with some 59% of Black Gen Z having hobbies or interests that they are passionate about. Members of Gen Z are also hopeful about their future. Roughly 62% are interested in running their own business, with 42% of those persons stating that social media can provide an opportunity to boost their finances in whatever field of endeavor they partake in. Ideals about faith vary amongst Generation Z as well, with a large number of them manifesting, being part of a church group and looking out for their mental, spiritual, and financial health. 

Gen Z is more likely to participate in a variety of different entertainment, art, music, sports, and cultural activities. They are also more interested in talking about issues that are prevalent in today’s time and culture. Gen Z members care to foster relationships and preserve their culture. 39% of Hispanic Gen Zers feel a closeness to their ancestral legacy today.

Black women Gen Zers  are “honored to be Black.” That was the finding of a 2020 BET (Black Entertainment Television) study on who they are, their complexities and the habits they are forming. A large portion of habits being formed can be attributed to the newfound education and exposure to technology now available. A reported 46% of these women have expertise in things that some people may consider “nerdy” in that they are experimenting with activities that are not typically associated with Black culture. 

Close to half of Black Gen Z are steadfast in their belief that cultural appropriation is not a good thing, especially when it comes to common jargon, hairstyles and fashion. Fifty-three percent insist that “brands” (product manufacturers) must respect their culture to earn their trust–and dollars. 

Black Gen Z women are determined to succeed yet nervous about the future all at once. Sixty-two percent want to run their own business someday, and 42% once again attest to the value of social media in providing larger financial opportunities. In the end, optimism rings soundly as 62% of Black Gen Z women are assured that they have the same opportunities for success as anyone.

Smartphones have become Black Gen Z’s windows to the world. They are connected to a global ideal of sharing their lives/experiences with other people, other cultures and other communities. More than half of this segment of Gen Z say social media makes them feel more connected to what’s going on whether it be gun control, police brutality, the environment and women’s rights.

The PEW Research Center conducted a study in 2015 and revealed that Latino “Boomers” in 1969 was just 4% of the population against 81% of their White counterparts. By 1987 it was 12% against 70%. In 2003 the percentages shifted to 17% vs. 61%, and today it is 25% against 52%, meaning that one in every four members of American Gen Z is Latino. 

The study also found that Latino Gen Zers tend to adopt labels that authentically represent them, diligently educating themselves on their history, culture, traditions and identity regardless of the opinion(s) of others. Gen Z Latinas participate in a vibrant array of entertainment, art, music, sports and other cultural activities, thereby fostering a stronger connection to ther heritage compared to the broader Latino population.