When most people think of the traditional role of Latinas, they imagine them as mothers, as wives, and as homemakers. And that’s still true. But today, Latinas have added another line to their list of achievements: They are now quickly leading the way as entrepreneurs in America’s competitive landscape.
What has fueled the success of entrepreneurs such as Pro-América Bank founder Maria Contreras-Sweet? Or Martha de la Torre, founder of El Classificado Hispanic Media? And what about Adriana Cisneros, who started the digital media giant Grupo Cisneros, to name a few?
Well, probably a lot of things.
One clear driver of their success is an economy that encourages everyone to put their best foot forward. Today’s competitive commercial landscape is a place where achievers—no matter their race, gender, or ethnicity—can build careers and provide for their families at the same time. The opportunity to be their families’ breadwinners has propelled Latinas to take on roles their mothers and grandmothers never would have even dreamed about. And now that the door is wide open, the world has found out just how talented these women really are.
It’s also true that more young Latinas are getting a very different message than their mothers did: that education and opportunity, and all of the rewards they bring, are theirs for the taking. Without having to abandon the traditional Hispanic family-oriented cultural model, Latinas see promising futures for their daughters, encouraging them to become successful entrepreneurs—or anything they want to be—forsaking the limits imposed for so long by mainstream U. S. business culture. And their daughters are listening and taking their advice.
Finally, the support networks, both formal and informal, among Latin women are strong and serve as a source of encouragement and collaboration that solidifies their presence as a force to be reckoned with. And it is the relationship-oriented aspect of Hispanic culture that is proving to be an unbeatable asset for Latinas as they bring their expertise into a still-traditionally male, and white, business environment. They can turn to each other, perhaps more easily than other demographic groups, to nourish their roles as creators, innovators, and leaders in an increasingly competitive entrepreneurial community.
The pop singer Bob Dylan said it best: “Times—they are a-changin’.” And for Latinas and their families, they’re changing for the better. Get ready to see even more: I have the feeling that they’re just getting started.