by Chenoa Flippen
Immigration from Latin America to the United States has surged in recent decades, and along with it the entry of immigrant women into the U.S. labor market. Understanding how immigrant Latinas are faring in the U.S. economy requires more than just adding women to models that were designed to explain the experiences of immigrant men. Instead, this understanding requires us to move beyond treating gender, legal status, and family structure as mere variables to be controlled for and to think more deeply about how the various constraints on women’s work interact with one another.
Drawing on original data on immigrant women residing in Durham, NC, one of the “new” destinations that has sprung up around the country in recent decades, I explore the determinants of whether or not immigrant Latinas work, and if so, how well they are able to maintain steady, full time employment. Results show that immigrant Latinas are highly concentrated in a handful of immigrant-dominated occupations, and there is little evidence that women with greater education or work experience are able to get better jobs.