Latinas Powerful But Still Under-Represented in Media

Hispanic women are more powerful economically and politically, but remain under-represented in media, according to a new study from Telemundo and MSNBC.

“Prominent Latinas are breaking out, breaking down and breaking through historical barriers in politics, business, entertainment, sports and academia that once seemed impenetrable,” says the report, entitled Latinas Powering Forward. Defining the Cultural Narrative and Reaching New Horizons. "They are working from a deep sense of purpose, exercising their collective power to change the conversation and take on bigger and better opportunities.”

The report is the result of a collaboration of initiatives by two units of Comcast’s NBCUniversal, with Telemundo’s Unstoppable Women teaming up with Comcast and NBCUniversal’s Know Your Value, which is led and founded by Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

“This united platform is a shared mission to encourage Latinas and all women to recognize and claim their value and to ladder-up to their future potential,” the report said. “There is no one more powerful than the Latina voter, the Latina consumer or the Latina businesswoman. It is essential to know who Latinas are, what they represent and where they are going.”

According to the report, there are 29 million Latinas. Their presence in the workforce has grown 93% from 2000 to 2017 and they influence the buying power of Hispanic households, which reached $1.5 trillion in 2018 and is forecast to hit $1.9 trillion in 2023.

Latinas also drive media consumption. In addition to spending more than 30 hours each week watching television, they spend 22 hours a week viewing videos, using apps or going on the internet with smartphones.

They are more likely than non-Hispanic White women to use youthful, visual and entertaining social media, the report said. “Latinas also enjoy group-viewing experiences that bring together family and friends around soccer matches, boxing, novelas and movies. They prefer Hispanic media for an international perspective on news, world events and changes in their community.”

They are also growing in political power.

“There is no one more powerful than the Latina voter, the Latina consumer or the Latina businesswoman. It is essential to know who Latinas are, what they represent and where they are going,” the report said.

And yet, for Latinas, the glass of Latina progress in the U.S. can be perceived as three-quarters full.

Latinas make 54 cents for every collar earned by non-Hispanic White men. They lag in access to healthcare and insurance.

And despite gains in most areas, Latinas are not as well represented in traditional media. The percentage of top-grossing films with Latina protagonists reached 7% in 2017 only to fall again to 4% in 2018., the report said. “Latinas filled less than a dismal 1% of industry roles as directors and producers in the top 1,200 most popular films over the past 12 years. Film and content lead the cultural conversation, and Latinas are being left out.”

However, signs of change are visible.

“There have been many new critically acclaimed Latino TV shows and movies, although many produced abroad, bringing newfound activity and excitement to Latino content,” the report said. “Prominent representatives of Latina talent such as Jennifer López, Selena Gómez, Sofía Vergara, Gloria Estefan, Shakira, Salma Hayek, América Ferrera, Eva Longoria and others have paved the road for the next generations of Latinas. This creative space only begins to chip away at the large deficits in Latino media representation, but it gets credit for depicting much needed diversity in Hispanic and Latina storytelling.”

Telemundo is taking many steps as a company to ensure that Latinas are more fully represented in the media, said Monica Gil, the network’s CMO.

“Telemundo is constantly making sure we grow women representation in front and behind the camera. As we redefined Hispanic media with contemporary storytelling and broke away from the traditional telenovela genre, we regularly feature strong leading female characters in our scripted series, such as the ratings hit La Reina del Sur, El Final del Paraiso, and Betty en NY, as well as in our reality competition show Exatlon, and the exclusive broadcast of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, among many others,” Gil said.

The report concluded that it was crucial for companies to understand Latinas.

“Latinas support companies who are vested in priorities and values that matter most to them. In 2018, Hispanic trust in businesses fell 24 points vs. 2016, the report said. “Businesses have a unique opportunity to stand for something that genuinely matters to the lives of Latinas as they go through challenging times. If a brand wants to gain her admiration, respect and dollar, then there are important actions that can have a lasting effect on brand reputation.”

Gil said that Telemundo makes sure that the priorities and values that are important to them are covered in everything the company does – from news and sports, to programming and to hiring.

“In the last few years, we have launched multiple campaigns that speak to issues that matter most to Latinas, and our Hispanic audience in general,” she said. “The campaigns include ‘Unstoppable Women,’ which focuses on the advancement of women; ‘El Poder en Ti,’ the network’s award-winning corporate social responsibility program focused on health, education, and financial literacy; and ‘Hazte Contar,’ a robust civic engagement campaign designed to unleash the Hispanic community’s vast and growing influence through greater civic participation in the 2020 Census and upcoming Presidential elections."

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.