In part one of our conversation with Patricia Pineda, The highest ranking Latino at Toyota, we discussed her upbringing in a strict Mexican-American family where the emphasis was always on education first. In this extension of that conversation, Pineda describes her bilingual, bicultural family life now, and the eternal question asked of working moms everywhere: how to do balance family and career?
English or Spanish?
Pineda was raised speaking English at home. Like many Latinos in her parent’s generation, an English-only house ensured that the children would not be discriminated against. Both of her parents speak English, although her father did not learn to speak it until he was in his twenties. Later in life, Pineda became fluent in Spanish after spending a year living in Mexico.
A mother to three adult children, Pineda raised her children bilingual and bicultural. “Instilling cultural pride in my children was always a priority for me, and I have tried to do this on many fronts. Not only have I taught them about Mexican culture and our wonderful traditions, I have also traveled with them to Mexico, where we still have a home, so that they would have an opportunity to immerse themselves and experience the culture first hand. I also regularly exposed them to Mexican food, music, and art, all of which I really love.”
When asked how she balanced the demands of family and work, she said there were many factors involved but what helped the most was being married to a husband who played an equal role in raising their three children, and who continuously supported her professional growth; “this has been critical to my success.”
A corporate executive for over thirty years, Pineda has been inspired by the women who have broken through the glass ceiling, the single, working mothers whose children have gone on to college, and all the young Latinos who are achieving academic and professional success despite the odds. “My parents also inspired me throughout my life by all that they were able to achieve in spite of their circumstances.”
Over the last twenty years, Pineda has seen changes towards women in the corporate world, but still there is room for improvement. She believes that we will continue to see a steady increase in professional opportunities for women in every industry, however, we need to see more women in the C-suite and on corporate boards. “Today, there are so many talented women who are making significant contributions in all sectors of corporate America.”
In her view, Latinas no longer have to choose between raising a family and having a fulfilling career. It is possible to balance motherhood and professional success. While it’s not easy, it can be done. Many women have succeeded in doing both. “Personally, I think it’s very important to have a supportive husband or an extended family who can help raise the kids.”
The clock in her office ticks again. It’s now 7:00 pm. Time to leave the corporate world behind and go home. Time to change hats and wear the wife and mom hat—such is the life of a corporate Latina.