Women at Work: Latina empowerment luncheon aims to inspire next - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Women at Work: Latina empowerment luncheon aims to inspire next generation

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations continued on Southern Illinois University's campus Thursday with a discussion aimed at empowering young Latina women.

Dozens of students talked with community leaders, who shared their experiences, including being women at work.

"I started as a teller and then I worked my way up," said Gloria Mager.

The Murphysboro woman is now retired. She was born in Honduras and moved to southern Illinois in 1980. She eventually became the Assistant Vice President of First Mid Bank. Mager says being bilingual helped her serve customers.

"it is very difficult for an international to come to a country where everything is foreign to you," said Mager. "You don't know what the currency is or how it works, let alone how to manage your money."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 in 7 women in the labor force is Hispanic. Nearly 1 out of 3 Hispanic women were employed in service occupations in 2016, but managerial and professional occupations have had the largest increase in Hispanic women's representation since 2000. A panel of women at SIU's Latina Empowerment Luncheon hoped to inspire more change.

"I think it is important to highlight the good things that Latinos bring to this country and especially women," said Cristina Castillo, Coordinator for the Hispanic/Latino Research Center at SIU.

Castillo moderated the luncheon. She called it one of the most important events during SIU's Hispanic Heritage Month. The panel talked with students not only about the challenges they've encountered in male dominated fields but also their successes.

"I hope the students leave here empowered and encouraged," said Castillo. "We are lovely, powerful women. I want them to understand that they can do everything and the little cliché, 'yes we can,' 'si se puede.'"

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