When social media explodes around the question of, “Who was that ridiculous Latina chick in the red dress at the Super Bowl media day,” I pay attention. The chick in question was Marisol González, the reporter for Televisa Deportes.

Wearing a super tight, red mini-dress with her luscious, wavy brown hair flowing down to her waist, the striking reporter was at the media event interviewing players alongside other reporters. But of course, she didn’t look like any of the others.

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Her outfit was just as sexy as those favored by her competitor, Inez Sainz, from TV Azteca, who last year was at the center of an investigation following a “locker room incident” where some players made jokes and comments about her appearance. I wonder why?

The fact that these two reporters are not only allowed but very likely encouraged to flaunt their great attributes by their employers speaks volumes of the deeply engrained sexism in the Hispanic culture. I know many men who don’t speak a word of Spanish but watch the morning shows and the evening news to see the sexy hostesses and the weather girls.

There’s nothing wrong with leveraging what you’ve got to achieve your goals. Hey, men tilt the scale in their favor using their deep, authoritative voices, taking up more space and even faking self-confidence when necessary.

The problem with übersexy reporters who pose in bikinis and wear skimpy clothing to do their jobs is that you can’t take them seriously and they devalue the profession. When Inez Sainz describes herself on her website as the “World Hottest Sports Reporter” who  is best known because of her sexy looks” and is hot, talented and has a great smile,” it makes me wonder, why not chose a career as a model, spokesperson for a sun block brand, or even have her own variety show? If her body and her looks are her best attributes, then she’s miscast as a reporter.

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Why do I care? For two reasons: First, because the journalism profession requires people who take their job seriously. Until the industry stops sanctioning looks over substance there will be limited opportunities for the thousands of brilliant female journalists who work hard to get in front of a camera. And second, because this lack of professional attitude (and attire) impacts all of us. Playing to the sexy Latina stereotype contributes to smart Latinas not being taken as seriously as they should be.

I hope this piece encourages a healthy debate on the subject of what is appropriate dress for different professions. But until some changes are made, it’s only fair that all the Spanish TV networks demand that their male anchors, sportscasters and weathermen show some skin. What about some six packs and a tight pair of black briefs for us ladies to look at? Old-Spice man anyone?

Mariela Dabbah is the CEO of Latinos in College a renowned speaker, media contributor and award-winning author. Her new book Poder de Mujer  will be released March 6, 2012 by Penguin.

Follow her on Twitter at @marieladabbah.

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Mariela Dabbah is a published author and founder of Latinos in College, a not-for-profit organization, and of the Red Shoe Movement, an initiative that invites women to wear red shoes to work on Tuesday to signal their support for other women’s careers.

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