Education and Career Development: Hispanic Women in Education

Abstract

Depth

The Depth component presents the annotated bibliography research studies from scholarly journals that relate to educational attainment and career choices of Hispanic women. A summary of the research method and critical assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, and contributions to the research issues discussed in each article is provided. In addition, a literature review essay will synthesize the following themes form the following research studies: educational statistics of Hispanics, educational progress of Hispanic women, and application of career development theories to Hispanics.

Annotated Bibliography

Adams, R. (2005). Once upon a time in America: Review of the world is flat. The Guardian. Web. 

Once upon a time in America is a review of the book The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. Information about the future or global world is very important in research, but some could be misleading. Such is the case of Thomas Friedman’s book as described in this article. Adams argues that Thomas is self-obsessed, has written a book with the contents of a puddle, and the writing style is verbose. Friedman’s work is rejected because Adams feels it is a theory of globalization and not actually a true prediction from relevant analytical sources. Adams has explained several reasons why The World is Flat cannot be a book to be relied on by policy makers or readers by showing how this writer is too wordy. One example is Friedman’s complete history of a typewriter. Adams also describes how The World is Flat as a metaphor is reproduced over and over in the book and how the book only gives the readers information about Friedman’s family.

Baez, B. (2004). The study of diversity: The “knowledge of difference” and the limits of science. Journal of Higher Education, 75, 285-306.

Baez questions the foundations under which social science strategies are based since, according to the author, the social science strategy creates and naturalizes racial differences, among other disparities, yet they are used in affirmative action cases. Baez then cautions educators on the use of such strategies that could unintentionally lead to disparities that people try to eliminate or reduce. Baez describes the social science strategy and then provides analysis of how this strategy could unintentionally lead to racial differences, legitimizing the use of and continuing such a strategy by institutions. Analysis is based on the argument that social science strategies lead to classification of individuals based on their biological differences.

Baez argues in the dimension of biological differences theory to explain diversity between individuals. He illustrates that diversity are naturally occurring phenomenon and thus has no cultural affiliation whatsoever in determining the differences between individuals. This contention gives important information about certain practices in higher education institutions that encourage racial differences and other disparities without the knowledge of the institution’s leaders who recommend their usage. Social science strategy is recommended, for example, for affirmative action in higher education institutions. But based on Baez’s report this could encourage inequalities among communities in the education sector and impact the general performance of the affected group. Baez notes that minority communities in America have been discriminated against due to race. Race has presented a serious concern to American society. The author concludes that this difference and science should be considered by educators especially in higher education institutions since it can have negative effects on encouraged affirmative action policies.

Bosco, M. S., & Bianco, C.A. (2005). Influence of maternal work patterns and socioeconomic status on Gen Y life style choice. Journal of Career Development, 32(2), 165-182.

This examines what lifestyle people would prefer in the next generation. According to Bosco and Bianco, the next generation is characterized by people whose mothers worked outside homes, unlike the previous generations (those born before 1980s) most of whose mothers stayed at home. Bosco and Bianco argue that lifestyle plays a major role in decision making about what careers men and women take. The focus is on expanding previous research on the career selection process and examining the factors that affect career choice to find out if these factors still influence the current generation, especially related to life style, which determines the career choice. Previous indicators of further education and career choice considered in this research are the socioeconomic variables of people’s income and parental education. Another area of focus was on the current maternal work patterns and their social influence on both women’s and men’s lifestyle selection.

The research used 574 male and female undergraduate students from a private university. This group consisted of African Americans, Hispanics, Caucasians, Asians and others not identified. Caucasians constituted the largest percentage of the group, followed by African Americans. Asians and Hispanics constituted 1.9%, and then other ethnic groups. In their research Bosco and Bianco used parental education and family income as the socioeconomic variables that influence lifestyle and hence career choice. The results indicated that different experiences between the previous generation and generation Y make lifestyle and career choice among generation Y different and so is not influenced by the two socioeconomic variables previously used to determine what career choices female and male students would make.

Boykin, A. W. (2004). Cultural identity and schooling outcomes of African American children from low income backgrounds: Rethinking childhood. In P. B. Pulfall & R. P. Unsworth (Eds.), New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Boykin wrote about children from diverse backgrounds and uses them to express people’s attitude towards diversity. Boykin argues that if diversity is considered as an asset rather a liability, it could enhance the performance in the education sector. In this perspective, diversity is considered to encompass race, ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, religion, national origin among many other factors. The author describes what children from the minority group experience in education by use of the underrepresented minority as the diverse group in this case.

The focus of this discussion is on creating resilient schools, which are believed to be the solution to making schools serve children even from diverse backgrounds to improve educational results. Boykin argues that such schools do well even with children from diverse groups, such as minority cultural or ethnic groups, low income background groups, and those who dwell in inner cities. The article is on how the schools can serve the children from diverse backgrounds better than they have done since minority groups from poor backgrounds and other diverse groups have a history of poor performance in education. The discussion seeks to explain how these children have potential and should not be viewed in terms of what they do not know or what they lack; instead, they should be viewed in terms of their capabilities.

Ferara, P. (2005). Hard work, education help Hispanics advance in Oregon’s workforce. Work Source Oregon, Employment Department

This paper is a case study of the importance of education to Hispanics and all that relate to their careers. In this analytical paper about Hispanics’ hard work in the company, the analyst illustrates the difference of education levels between men and women from the Hispanic community, describes how education pays this community, and also describes the careers of Hispanics. According to this analysis, Hispanics are involved in several industries, including construction, trade, manufacturing, and service industries. The analyst also describes the trend of employment levels of the Hispanic community; in 2002 Hispanics employed in government increased by 7%.

These careers give a very important characteristic of Hispanics and can be used to determine how members of the Hispanic community select careers. In the section, Education Pays”, Ferara indicates that Hispanic wages have improved due to higher education levels. This section also has important information about equality and points out that Hispanic woman’s wages are equivalent to that of non-Hispanics. This is in contrast to their male counterparts, whose wage gap is bigger. The overall aim of the paper is to describe hard work and the benefits of education, but it also reveals reduced discrimination. Hispanics with a high school education are paid the same as non-Hispanics with a high school education. This is an indication that previously Hispanics would not receive the same amount as others because they were Hispanics, the minority group or immigrants, and not American born, as well as several other reasons.

Free, R.C., Brown, J.L., & Clifford, M.T. (2007). The Differences by Race and Gender in Expected Starting Salaries of Bachelor Degree Recipients in Connecticut. The Negro Educational Review, Vol. 58 no. ¾, pp. 233-51. Web. 

The authors of this article conducted a research on the effect of college major on differences by race and gender in estimated starting salaries of college graduates from Connecticut colleges and universities. The respondents were graduates in the year 2006. They used data from the Connecticut Department of Higher and National Association of Colleges to help them analyze the impact of college major on the race and gender variance. The results revealed that other than the low salary expectations from female graduates, racial disparities were also prominent, with many of the African Americans and Hispanics expecting the lowest salary upon their first employments. For the Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander women, their first employment salary expectation is slightly higher than their male counterparts.

Unexpectedly, the study revealed that the expected starting salary of African American and Hispanic women were slightly higher than that of whites, once all majors were taken into consideration. This is despite the fact that Hispanic women and African Americans are likely to be paid less than their white counterparts in their first salary.

Fry, R. (2004). Latino youth finishing college: The role of selective pathways. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center.

Fry is a senior research associate at the Pew Hispanic center who conducts research on labor market and education characteristics of ethnic and racial groups in the U.S. Fry describes how the gap between Latino students and White students who graduate with bachelor’s degrees has widened. The researcher argues that there is great inequality between the numbers of Latino graduates in educational outcomes and the White majority. The findings of this report came from an analysis carried out on newly available data from the U.S. Department of Education survey commissioned by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The survey involved an examination of 25,000 youth, their nationalities, and academic records from grade eight to 26 years old. The focus of the report was on the preparation Latino students receive in high school and high school problems such as dropout rates. The results obtained from this report show that half the total numbers of Latino youth who succeed in enrolling in college have received at least the preparation required for enrollment in a 4-year college. Several findings also indicate that prepared Latino youth do not succeed in the quest for a bachelor’s degree for two reasons: the students have different experiences than White students and Latino students enroll in different types of institutions than White students. Fry suggests how this could be changed to increase the number of graduates from the Latino community.

Fry, R. (2002). Latinos in higher education: Many enroll, too few graduate. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center.

Fry reports on a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts and USC Annenberg School for Communication that examined Latinos and postsecondary education; specifically, why Latinos still lag behind in postsecondary degrees. In America, postsecondary education is widely recommended even by the labor market, yet the Latinos, according to this report, still lag behind. The report analyzes postsecondary performance of Latinos to determine the problem and is based on population survey data obtained from U.S. Census Bureau for the years 1997-2000. It shows the efforts and decisions Latinos make about education and reveals that although many Latinos enroll in secondary schools, few enroll for degree courses. The report also discusses how to assist Latinos after finding out what problems exist and what leads to their poor enrollment for graduate studies. There are several findings about Latinos and their education; for example, they are older students and most opt for 2-year colleges. The report reveals that Latinos value education and, therefore, there other problems that affect their education performance and levels. These findings may help the Latino community resolve their problems and provide a basis for accomplishing missions of increasing the number of Latino graduates.

Gonzales, F. (2008). Hispanic women in the United States, 2007. Fact sheet. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center.

This paper is a fact sheet about employment, demographic, and income characteristics of Hispanic women in the U.S. in 2007. It contains information about Hispanic women born in America, those who migrated to the U.S. from other countries, and their native communities. Description of differences between these women and non-Hispanic women is also given. Several characteristics are shown in this fact sheet; for example: (a) Hispanic women are, on average, younger than non-Hispanic women, with a median age of 41 while non-Hispanics have an average age of 47, and (b) native-born Hispanics are younger than immigrant Hispanic women. Important information about their careers and education show that Hispanic women are less educated compared to non-Hispanic women, with 36% having less than a high school education. Only 10% of non-Hispanic women, on the contrary, have less than a high school education.

The fact sheet also indicates that most immigrant Hispanic women (49%) have less than a high school education. Native-born Hispanic women (46%), however, have a college education. Information about Hispanic women’s employment shows that they work full time and earn less than non-Hispanic women, yet their labor force participation is almost the same compared to non-Hispanic women. Hispanic women occupy office jobs and administrative support positions. More information is given with specific percentages of these women working in these sections. Most of the information compares Hispanic women and non-Hispanic women in relation to education, occupation, age, employment and many other characteristics.

González, R.J. (2005). Falling flat: As the world’s boundaries are worn smooth, Friedman examines changing horizons. San Francisco Chronicle. 

González writes about expectations of the world in the 21st century by critiquing Thomas L. Friedman’s book The World is Flat. In addition to writing books, Friedman writes for the New York Times and has influence over the public. González notes that Friedman influences policy makers, the president, and industry captains in the world, and his information should be accurate. However, González notes that this book does not consider history adequately, is intellectually improvised, and is misinformed culturally, even though it is a best seller. Such influences affect education or what U.S. communities choose to do. Friedman considers the 21st century a world of regions that characterizes Latin Americans as being part of the fun town, reluctant to work, and sleeping until midday. Africa is characterized by reduced life expectancy, boarded-up businesses, and health care problems. The Arab street is a dark alley where very few people would tread.

According to González, people work towards the future, and when the future has been wrongly predicted by an influential writer, the effect to different communities is unknown but may be negative. For example, the Hispanic community image as predicted by Friedman can change their relationship with the reset of societal members and the manner in which they would regard themselves, hence changing the community in many aspects, such as attitude towards education. González contends that Friedman has misinformed the people and his book The World is Flat has no reliable information based on culture, history, and intellect. The aspect of marginalization is revealed by González’s review of The Flat World when he notes that only the high income earning group, the powerful, and those considered important in the society are interviewed. González also describes Friedman’s work as focused only on luxury hotels, golf courses, and five star restaurants, an indication that the minority group is always given little attention or focus. The minority in this case are the low income earners and the middle class in the society around the world. If the minority group was discussed in the book, the discussion was negative.

Harris, P. (2005). A quiet crisis: Conference highlights higher education disparities between Latino men and women. Diverse Issues in Higher Education. 

This article, based on a conference held in October, 2005, about Latino men and higher education, discusses the hidden crisis about Latino men and higher education. According to this article 20% more Latino women than men go to college. The main focus is on the reasons why Latino men do not go to college as much as their female counterparts do. Factors that lead to such a disparity are attributed to culture, employment opportunities, and how to finance college education. Reasons that affect male Latinos not pursuing further education encourage female Latinos to pursue further education. One example is employment. Employment opportunities available for male Latinos that provide the salary or money that most youth need cause them to opt out of further education. These same employment opportunities available for men and not for women cause Latino women to opt for further education to obtain employment. Several other reasons why young Latino women end up prospering while their counterparts lag behind due to lack of education are also described.

Most published research articles about disparities have focused on gender disparities of African Americans. African Americans have tried to find out ways of reducing such disparities and in some cases they have succeeded. Since the aim of the discussion in this conference was to find out how to reduce the inequality in education between Latino men and women and, more specifically, to increase the number of men going for degree level education, it was decided that models used by African Americans in solving gender disparity problems be applied for Hispanics.

Johnson, P. D. (2006). “Historical trends and their impact on the social construction of self among Hispanics and its impact on self-efficacious behaviors in training and careers”. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 5(1), 69-84.

The study report illustrates a strategy that can be used to improve training models as well as career counseling among Hispanic-Americans. According to the author, historical trends are one of the causes of failures or poor achievement among Hispanics. Historical trends are characterized by experiences of Hispanics during their college education. In the study, Hispanic students face a lot of barriers that are directly linked to self-concept. This need to be monitored to make sure higher education initiatives succeeds. The author describes issues in the social construct of self, which is a Success-determining factor and the epistemologies affecting the construction among others, as a way to make the Hispanic counselors and trainers aware of Hispanic students’ needs in education. Johnson argues that when career advisers, counselors, and trainers are equipped with knowledge about what motivates Hispanic students in their academic responsibilities, they improve their abilities to guide these students towards higher education and career choices.

After analysis of theories and information about Hispanic students’ self concept, Johnson concludes that Latino studies is affected by regionalism that makes it difficult for such studies to be unified as a theory of culture. This is a conclusion based on Flores, a Chicano and Latino studies advocate. Johnson also notes that the success of career counselors is based on the extent they counsel students in a sensitive manner. Sensitive manner refers to counselors’ knowledge about students’ culture so that they can help Hispanics negotiate the mainstream culture while at the same time support them in their native culture.

Mccrink, C. S. (2002). Hispanic women building a room for self efficiency. Journal of Hispanic Education, 1(3), 238-250

Mccrink is a Cuban American in higher education administration. The paper contains information Mccrink believes is important to share and thoughts about Hispanic women’s advancement in careers. Mccrink uses Bandura’s (1986) self-efficacy theory to explain career advancement among Hispanic women in higher education and also considers the cultural effects of career choice. The paper also describes cultural ties to women’s socialization in the Latino community that can affect or dictate their lifestyle.

There is Ten Commandments Latino women are expected to follow as part of their culture. These commandments can affect their lifestyle. For example, one commandment reads “do not forsake tradition”. Mccrink notes that this affects the way Latino women select their education practices, levels of education, and careers. Another issue of importance considered in the paper is self-efficacy, which is explained as the belief in one’s ability to perform a task or a behavior. According to Mccrink, self-efficacy in an area is another way of helping a person develops a career through a belief in one’s self.

Ntiri, D. (2001). Access to higher education for nontraditional students and minorities in a technology-focused society. Urban Education, 36, 129-144.

Ntiri’s report focuses on the minority groups such as Hispanics, African Americans, and women, who are referred to as nontraditional learners. The report describes the advantages of higher education among women and minority groups and the challenges in the 21st century that require constant learning. The author argues that to meet the challenges that America will face in the 21st century; everybody has to be engaged in a continual process of learning, regardless of ethnicity, race, or gender. Opportunities and access to higher education must, therefore, be examined carefully. Information on higher education trends in the U.S. for women indicates that there are more women than men in higher education institutions in all communities in the U.S. in the current century.

According to this report, African American women make up 62% of college enrollment; White women make up 55%, and Hispanic women make up 56%. The report also points out that women have higher expectations of earning graduate degrees, becoming doctors, and growing in the different professional fields, which changes the long term trend of more men in higher education institutions than women. The information in this report has been used to examine the recurring problem of educational access for the groups described above, the demographic changes in college enrollment, and the impact of these two issues on the urban computer-based economy. Ntiri concludes that the educational gap between minorities and the dominant community will still persist even though current trends indicate that there are more women in higher education institutions. The report also explains reasons why the minority groups will still have problems in higher education and provides recommendations based on such reasons.

Quilantan, M.C., & Menchaca-Ochoa, V. (2007). The Superintendency Becomes a Reality for Hispanic Women. Journal of Kappa Delta Pi Record, Vol. 40, No. 3. pp. 124-7. Web. 

The authors examined Hispanic women’s experiences as superintendents in the educational sector. According to researchers, women faced many challenges in their roles as superintendents in the education sector. However, Hispanics face more challenges as they have to overcome the racial and gender stereotypes. According to their observations,” the value system among the Hispanic community in many years dictates that young Hispanic women should remain docile and passive as they pursue their career coupled with their personal lives” (Quilantan & Menchaca-Ochoa, 2007, p.126).

However, despite the strong barriers associated with discrimination Hispanic women faced, they managed to prevail and succeed in defining their academic and career paths. This is because they believed that increased quality education for the Hispanic girls would empower and help them define their course in career and development. In this aspect, their success in climbing the rocky academic ladder is attributed to the increased involvement of the social capital in the American society. The authors conclude that Hispanic female superintendents have succeeded in their quest for academic supremacy due to the self-efficacy they adopted during this period of quest.

Rodriguez, G., Johnson, S., & Combs, D. (2001). The Significant variables associated with assertiveness among Hispanic College women. Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 184-90. Web.

The study investigated undergraduate and graduate Hispanics and non-Hispanic women enrolled in teacher education and counseling courses at the University of Texas. The study revealed that 35% of the Hispanic women at the undergraduate level scored higher in assertive ranges more than other lower tertiary levels. Conversely, Hispanic women at graduate schools were the most assertive, surpassing even the non-Hispanic groups. The tendency in the higher level achievers in academic fields suggested that as the Hispanic women proceeded to the graduate schools for further studies, they tended to be more assertive that their non-Hispanic counterparts.

Turrentine, C., & Conley, V. (2001). Two measures of the diversity of the labor pool for entry-level student affairs positions. NASPA Journal, Vol. 39, no.1, pp.84-102. Web. 

The two researchers investigated the diversity (in terms of demography) of the labor pool at the lower level for student affairs position. They used two measures to calculate the diversity in terms of demography at the positions of entry level. The researchers used IPEDS data because the institution used them to hire the staff in line the demands of affirmative actions. They found that student affairs professionals do appreciate and value of employing staff from varied background, considering gender, race and age. However, against the background and understanding of this concept, inequity is still rampant in the student affairs offices, particularly as concerns racial balancing. What compounds this problem is the fact that there is little data on the number of professionals in this field. Furthermore, the available data do not explicitly state some demographic information like race of the likely candidates for such jobs.

University of Texas at El Paso [UTEP]. (2004). UTEP No. 2 top school for Hispanic women According to Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education.

This was a review of research materials related to educational opportunities for residents of the University of Texas. The review concentrated on the opportunities for residents of United States and Mexico, analyzing the competitive workforce among the people of this region and how this contributes to the economic development of the people.

According to this review, UTEP has the most Hispanic women enrolled as students and produces more women graduates with both bachelors and master’s degrees. UTEP is considered number two in enrolling Hispanic women and producing Hispanic women graduates. Information about Hispanic women student characteristics and how the institution manages to achieve such standards of education with Hispanics could be obtained from this fact sheet and the institution.

U.S Census Bureau. (2004-2005). Statistical Abstract of the United States: Education and Population. Sections 4 and 1.

The education section presents data about formal education in the U.S. at all levels, including higher education. It also includes information from both private and public schools. The data on issues of education taken into consideration in this section include information on “education personnel, school enrollment, school age, educational attainment, financial aspects of education and school population” (U.S Census Bureau, 2004-2005). “Adult education, computer usage in schools, distance education programs, and charter schools” are also presented in the available data U.S Census (Bureau, 2004-2005). U.S census data is obtained from population surveys carried out by the U.S Census Bureau, periodic surveys such as annual and biennial surveys, and surveys from U.S Department of Education and from decennial census of population.

U.S Census Bureau. (2004-2005). Statistical Abstract of the United States: Population. Section 1:

Information about the population of Hispanics in the U.S. can be obtained from this source. The statistical abstract contains a section obtained from a census carried out in 2002 that describes the Hispanic population. “Hispanic” is a term that has been used to refer to several communities in America that have origins in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain and other peoples from Spanish-speaking countries like South and Central America. U. S Census Bureau statistics also have important information that can be used in research for studying Hispanics. The data classify Hispanics as native or foreign born. Foreign born populations may constitute a certain proportion of Hispanics in the U.S. and may exhibit different characteristics from native born Hispanics but can be used to generalize Hispanic characteristics.

Zacharakis, J., Diaz, G., & Glass, D. (2007). Diversity in Kansas Adult Education Programs. Journal of Educational Considerations, Vol. 35, no. 1, pp.4-5. Web. 

The researchers first focused on the historical overview of diversity in adult education programs in Kansas. The historical figures suggest that the urban population that was served by adult education programs were dominated by African Americans and Hispanics. However as time went by, Hispanics continuously dominated the adult education programs. For instance while other studies concentrated on the increased number of Hispanics in the adult education, this study exclusively revealed that majority of the people served by the programs were Hispanic women, who occupied 41% of the total number.

Apart from the increased number of Hispanic women adult learners, there has also been an increased dominance of Hispanic women as adult educators in the last two decades. The authors conclude that the potential impact of this increased diversity in the adult education programs, among the learners and educators is likely to propel further Hispanic women in the education sector, sidelining their male counterparts.

Literature Review Essay

It is a common knowledge that different ethnic groups are affected differently in relation to education and career choices not only in the United States but globally (Baez, 2004).In the U.S., minority groups, notably Hispanic Americans and African Americans, have gone through immeasurable difficulty in trying to find their identity in the educational sector and in career choices (Harris, 2005). As a group, Hispanics are one of the fastest growing minority groups and the nation’s youngest sub-population (U.S Census Bureau, 2004-2005). This means that the numbers of Hispanic children in schools are expected to rise exponentially.

According to Mccrink (2002), Hispanics have held their traditions so dearly that any attempt to reconcile their traditions with that of a broader community has become a daunting task, especially for families attempting career breakthroughs. In addition, Johnson (2006) observes that “career development of Hispanics has become a salient issue in the social sciences literature because it is believed that the quality of the future U.S labor market will depend, to a great extent, on this group’s education and job skills” (p.139).

Economists from the Bureau of Statistics noted that the U.S. needs a highly trained and skilled labor force to bolster production and maintain its competitiveness in the international markets (U.S Census Bureau, 2004-2005). However, compared to other industrialized nations, U.S youth rank among the lowest in terms of literacy and math and science proficiency (Johnson, 2006). Although this lack of educational achievement is true to all the groups, Johnson (2006) observed that it is particularly pronounced among Hispanic youth and African Americans. It is, therefore, possible to hypothesize that because Hispanics are the fastest growing population; their lack of educational and occupational attainment raises considerable concern.

Hispanic Educational Statistics

In a study conducted by Bez and Fitzgerald, it was established that among all the freshmen, Hispanics as a group tended to aspire higher levels of education than freshmen from other groups such as Whites and African Americans. For example, 16% planned to study for a doctorate and 10% were considering a medical degree. Overall, these proportions were 13% and 7%, respectively. Moreover, 26% of Hispanics and 32% of all freshmen reported a baccalaureate as their highest planned degree (Bez & Fitzgerald, 1997). In a separate study, the level of parents’ education was found to substantially affect groups of Hispanic women and their White counterparts differently (Bandura, 1986). Substantial differences were found to exist in the level of parent’s education as reported by Hispanic and all freshmen (Bandura, 1986). For instance, about 31% of Hispanic fathers, compared to 8% overall, had less than a high school education (Bandura, 1986). In contrast, the percentages of who had college degrees were 13% (Hispanics) and 24% (total) (Bandura, 1986). Regarding level of education for their mothers, 29% of Hispanics and 6% of all freshmen indicated that their mothers did not have a high school diploma (Bandura, 1986).

Estimated parental income is lower among Hispanics than in other groups overall. Lower annual parental income was found to have a significant effect on the performance of Hispanic children compared to the overall average of other groups (Bez & Fitzgerald, 1997). This led to a higher number of Hispanics seeking financial aid than other groups. Many Hispanic students listed financing their education as the major concern (25%), compared to 14% of all freshmen. This led to about 35% of Hispanics receiving assistance through grants or scholarships; overall, the proportion was 25% (Bez & Fitzgerald, 1997). Also, Hispanics were less likely than all freshmen to rely on relatives’ savings to finance their schooling [ 37% vs. 51%] (Bez & Fitzgerald, 1997).

The probable careers for Hispanic freshmen were more oriented towards engineering, law, and medicine (Bez & Fitzgerald, 1997). This was in contrast to the average interest of all freshmen. For instance, 9% of Hispanics planned on being physicians compared to 5% of all freshmen. Hispanics were not as likely to plan a career in elementary or secondary teaching as all freshmen [5% vs. 9%] (Bez & Fitzgerald, 1997).

Even though these statistics are not specific to Hispanic women, it is significant to note that they probably have a substantial impact on their overall education and career uptake. This is largely due to other factors such as culture, family, school environment and individual efficacy in relation to aspiration that tend to contribute to the overall adulthood of an individual. These factors have been elaborated by the theoretical constructs as will be elaborated below. Furthermore, historical knowledge shows that Hispanic women faced two limitations: being a woman and being a Hispanic minority woman (Johnson, 2006).

Educational Progress of Hispanic Women

Presently, it is estimated that there are 20% more Hispanic women who attain college degrees compared to their male counterparts (Harris, 2005). A significant number of Hispanic women have ascended to senior positions in both the public and private sector more than Hispanic males. The majority of the recent appointments among Hispanics were dominated by women, for example, Dr. Doris Cintron (Dean of School of Education at City College of New York), Dr. Mirta Martin (Interim Dean of School of Business at Virginia State University), Kenia Davalos (Finance Instructor at University of California, LA), Sarita Brown (Winner of McGraw Price in Education, 2009) (Hispanic Outlook, 2009).

Some observers attributed this trend to be more than cultural and mention the important role played by Hispanic women who have excelled before under tougher conditions (Harris, 2005). For instance, they highlighted the available statistics, which suggested that more than 80% of teachers at the elementary and high school level are women, hence acting as role models to many Hispanic girls (Harris, 2005). This subsequently motivates them to pursue higher academic careers more than their male counterparts, who are allegedly lured with low status jobs at an early age.

Some observers also highlighted that family and culture play a very important part in the overall variance between the Hispanic women and men (Bosco & Bianco, 2005; Swail, Alberto, & Chul, 2004). Bosco & Bianco (2005) stated that Latino mothers are more keen on and strict with their daughters’ overall growth and behavior than with their sons. Still, some scholars and observers applied the self-efficacy concept to individuals’ motivations and their environment (Johnson, 2006; Mccrink, 2002).

The difficulty in educational achievements and career choice has affected Hispanic women more than their male counterparts. But why have they achieved more than their male counterparts? As noted previously, Hispanic women, like African American women, have faced difficulty in two dimensions: being a woman and belonging to Hispanic minority group. Historically, these two groups have faced similar discrimination in America. Additionally, the traditional practices of Hispanics have dictated that women’s place remains in the home, a notion that is still held dearly by some of Hispanic families (González, 2005; Gonzales, 2008). Recently, it was very unusual to find Hispanic woman working outside the home or just giving a personal opinion on matters concerning society (Gonzales, 2008). With continuous empowerment, this trend changed gradually and currently a number of Hispanics are making career choices that were initially reserved for the dominant majority (Fry, 2004). However, it is critical to note that the progress is not as fast as was expected, with many Hispanic women still shying away from making certain career choices (Baez, 2004; Ntiri, 2001). This could be attributed to the little attention paid to research and development regarding different levels of educational improvement for Hispanic women (Ntiri, 2001). In other words, little empirical and theoretical literature are available that specifically address educational and career choices of Hispanic women.

Educational research has shown that positive and negative school experiences influence people’s career and educational choices as adults and their confidence in learning. In his study of the impact of racism in 1980s racial segregation in American schools Young (1990, as cited in Hearn, 1992) found out that many of the students did not have positive memories about their experience in school, particularly with a specific teacher. According to Young, bad school experiences made people wary of returning to education, a phenomenon that affected minority groups more than any other group. For Hispanic women to excel in school, they needed support from all directions, especially from outside the immediate family. Rockhill (1993, as cited in Bez & Fitzgerald, 1997), in her study of Hispanic women, talked of the point at which women’s literacy or language help is suddenly seen as “education” by their partners; men who encouraged their wives to develop functional skills that enabled them to deal with household management became alarmed and withdrew their support later.

Arbona (1990) revealed that Hispanic girls had the poorest foundation of education in terms of elementary and secondary school accomplishments. Several studies showed that Latinos who enrolled in college were found to be adequately prepared, unlike when they enrolled in high school. This is because the education system is designed to merge the whole group of students as one and assumes that once students went through elementary school, they would perform equally (Pew Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family Foundation, 2004). Another study suggested that Latinos enrolled in universities had high dropout rates (Boykin, 2004).

Other studies have revealed that high school curriculum, class rank (GPA), and test scores have a strong correlation to how students approach a particular career intention or ambition (Adams, 2005; Hearn, 1992). Tests normally concentrate on the students’ ability in specific subjects such as math, English, social science, and computer science (Baez, 2004). According to Baez (2004), these subjects are “alien” in nature and place Hispanic women at a disadvantage because of their limited English language proficiency and lack of role models to boost their math proficiency.

Swail et al. (2004), in their empirical analysis of the research concerning Latino youths and their educational progress, noted that America’s “pyramid” format of higher education is creating a dangerous gap between the established cultures and minority groups. They stated, “the top of the pyramid is comfortably occupied by a few highly selective schools with, while the bottom of the pyramid is the squeezed majority with minority type of students” (p. 34).

Theories of Career Development: An Application to Hispanic Women

There is a vast amount of complex empirical and theoretical literature related to careers. Two major traditions have been identified in study of careers: the counseling psychology and organizational behavior perspectives (Arbona, 1990; Brown, 1990). The counseling psychology tradition emphasizes the process by which people make and implement career decisions focusing on vocational outcomes from the perspective of the individual (Arbona, 1990). The organizational behavior perspective, on the other hand, emphasizes the study of the interaction between the person and the work situation, focusing on the outcomes that are of more interest to the organization than to the individual, such as working climate, productivity, absenteeism, and turnover (Brown, 1990).

Career development researchers (Brown, 1990; Delgado-Gaitan, 1992; Gould, 1993) concluded that a comprehensive theory of career development does not exist; rather, there is a series of “segmental” theories that simply address different aspects of the career development process that may be useful for different populations and different problems. Therefore, in this section I review some of the “segmental” theories within the counseling psychology perspective and discuss how some of their constructs may be applied or expanded to examine career-related processes among Hispanic American women. I will touch slightly on Holland’s theory and emphasize more on specific theoretical approaches such as Super’s developmental theory and self-efficacy theories, which seem more relevant to Hispanic women.

Holland’s theory

Holland’s (1985) theory proposed that work environments and people may be classified in terms of six types based on their predominant areas of interests: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional (RIASEC) (Brown, 1990). According to Holland, individuals tend to choose educational paths and careers that match their most salient interests (Brown, 1990). Most of the research initiatives related to this theory have focused mainly on three aspects: (a) the correspondence between personality and environmental types in different occupations; (b) the study of definition and predictive validity of the constructs of congruency, consistency, and differentiation; and (c) the research on assessment instruments, mainly of career interest, based on the theory (Bez & Fitzgerald; 1997; Brown, 1990; Hearn, 1992).

However, it is noted that only the last one—research on assessment instruments—has received considerable attention in studies related to Hispanics as a sub population. Bez and Fitzgerald (1997) used this theory in their study and found out that African American high school and college students’ view of the world of work is similar to the view held by the majority culture, and that the Holland scales are appropriate for assessing the career interest of these students. Other researchers with other minority groups and blue collar workers also suggested that there is a general fit between personality and environment type among these populations which is consistent with related findings with whites and college graduates (Baez, 2004; Boykin, 2004; Ferara, 2005). It is thus possible that the theory may apply to Hispanic American women as well even though it has not been empirically tested

Super’s development theory

Super’s (1957) development theory attempts to explain changes in career-related behaviors and attitudes across the lifespan, emphasizing the process and the content of career decision-making (Gould, 1993). This theory seems the most researched of all the available theoretical constructs (Brown, 1990; Delgado-Gaitan, 1992; Gould, 1993; Fry, 2002). This theory may be relevant to the study of African American and Hispanic American women, considering their decisions and career choice over time.

Like the general human development, career development is conceptualized as a continuous undertaking that is dynamic and involves the interaction of many psychological and social factors (Fry, 2002). It is described as a series of vocational stages that entail growth, exploration, establishment, maintenance, and decline; hence providing the framework of specific career-related tasks, including behaviors and attitude, to be mastered or accomplished (Fry, 2002). This theory also portrays other aspects of career development, including:

  1. the concept of career maturity, which refers to a person’s ability to meet the demands of vocational tasks appropriate to one’s age or life situation;
  2. the implementation of the self-concept in the development of vocational identity;
  3. career patterns, or the occupational level and sequencing of jobs;
  4. role saliency, the relative importance of the worker, students, sportsman, homemaker roles for individuals (Fry, 2002; Ntiri, 2001).

Several empirical studies alluded to Super’s (1957) theory. In his recent studies, Ferara (2005) acknowledged that that there is a significant impact of race, ethnicity, and gender in the process of career development. Ferara found that the career path that non-Whites took changed with time as one came to know wider concepts of available careers and what they entailed. Similarly, Penley et al. (1989, cited in Hearn, 1992) found minimal difference in the reported career strategies or career expectations of Hispanic and non-Hispanic White college graduates in business. Arborna (1990) revealed more gender than ethnic differences in the career aspirations and expectations among Hispanics, African Americans, and White college students. Luzzo’s (1992, cited in Bez & Fitzgerald, 1997) study was related to Super’s (1957) theory even more directly. His findings were that Hispanic women college students did not differ from their White counterparts in career development attitudes, career decision-making skills or vocational congruence (between assessed interests and occupational aspirations) (Bez & Fitzgerald, 1997). Arbona (1990) found out that among Hispanic adolescents school and career plans were salient issues. According to this study, as Hispanic youth, particularly girls, talked about their current lives and reflected upon their plans for the future, they showed an aversion to the negative ways in which Hispanics are often portrayed (Arbona, 1990). However, the feelings these students expressed regarding their ethnicity and gender ranged from pride to ambivalence to detachment (Arbona, 1990).

In light of these findings and the theoretical and empirical literature on ethnicity and gender identity, there is a likelihood that Hispanic women developed a sense of ethnic and gender identity that boosted their developmental process. This could have helped them implement their self-concept in a vocational identity; the self-concept became a task in itself that required an endless struggle. Research with African American women supports this proposition. For instance, Boykin (2004) found out that these women, at their individual capacity, stated that dealing with the implications of race in their lives became a task in itself.

It is critical to find ways in which Super’s (1957) theory can be expanded to make more relevant and help understand Hispanic women’s success in America despite the inherent drawbacks. In this case, I suggest one way in which this theory can be expanded in line with the aforementioned is through examining the extent to which ethnic and gender identity formation becomes a developmental task in itself. According to Ferara (2005), one of the central aspects of identity development among late adolescents is the selection of occupational identity. Similarly, career development theory proposes that that crystallization of vocational plans, that is, the development of vocational identity, is facilitated by achievement of a clear and integrated sense of self (Delgado-Gaitan, 1992; Gould, 1993).

Delgado-Gaitan (1992) proposed a framework for developmental-contextual approach to career development that attempts to conceptualize the interaction between a changing person and acting in and reacting to a changing context. This perspective relates the development process in a person within the person, which some scholars have described as intrapsychic approach, and relationships between people and their different contexts. This is in line with Bronfenbrenner (1979, cited in Bandura, 1986), who described the environment to be nested, interconnected systems that vary in the degree of proximity to the environment of an individual person. These systems include microsystems, which contain the developing person directly such as the family or the school; the link between various microsystems, for example, parents and teachers; context, which indirectly relates to a person, such as parents’ place of employment; and the larger society, which includes public policy, laws, and cultural values (Bandura, 1986).

According to the contextual model of human development, many microsystems, such as family, school, peer group and job setting, are relevant to an adolescent’s career development (Johnson, 2006). Family and school have been identified to significantly contribute to the overall progression from youth to adulthood (Johnson, 2006). Researchers, therefore, suggested that, to discover the entire link between family and academic and career development, one must investigate the impact of these factors on three mechanisms of occupational socialization: the activities in which children and adolescents, the quality of interpersonal relationships with the family and other social contexts such as school and work, and the roles youths play or are exposed to either directly or indirectly.

Considering the importance of family in Hispanic culture, it is relevant to examine the process by which the characteristics of the family influence the educational as well as career-related behaviors of Hispanic women and adolescents. Delgado-Gaitan (1992) examined the parent-child interactions regarding school tasks in the homes of six, low-income Mexican American immigrant parents and their American-born second graders. The findings revealed that both sets of parents provided emotional and physical support for their children’s school activities by setting out a time and space for them to do their homework and either supervising completion of the task or helping them with it (Delgado-Gaitan, 1992).

In other studies involving mostly low-income Hispanics first graders from immigrant families who experienced difficulty in learning to read, Baez (2004) found that the parents’ help at home resulted in higher levels of skill acquisition and motivation in the child, which in turn influenced teachers’ decisions regarding reading-group level in the school. Ferara’s (2005) study also found that the teachers’ actions in enlisting the mother’s help in reading-related tasks appeared to be a crucial intervention in enhancing the reading skills of one student for whom the teacher had low expectations of success at the beginning of the year. Lack of similar attention, on the other hand, negatively affected another student for whom the teacher initially had high expectations of success (Ferara, 2005).

These studies clearly illustrate how the reciprocal influences between parents’ and teachers’ behaviors affect the learning process among young Hispanic children. At a narrower level, the interaction between parent and their children was characterized by both support for educational attainment and inability to provide help with specific homework tasks, which clearly illustrates how parental education impacts children’s academic achievement. From a broader perspective, the results suggest that parents’ interaction with teachers enhanced the parent’s ability to help children learn and also influenced the children’s learning environment within the classroom in relation to reading-group assignment.

Self-efficacy theory

The proponents of self-efficacy theory hold the beliefs that one’s expectations about his or her ability influence the ability to successfully initiate and execute courses of action (Brown, 1990). The theory proposes that these beliefs determine, to a great extent, individual’s willingness to initiate specific behaviors and persistence in the face of obstacles or barriers (Brown, 1990). Since there is evidence to suggest that Hispanic women are likely to encounter multiple barriers in the pursuit of their educational and occupational aspirations, the self-efficacy construct could facilitate understanding their career development process.

Fry (2002) applied self-efficacy theory to explain gender difference in career choice. Recently, this construct has been examined in relation to other career-related variables such as academic achievement and persistence in college majors, career decision making and educational and career choices of high school students (Ferara, 2005; Fry, 2004). There are few studies that have examined academic and occupational self-efficacy in the Hispanic population. Generally, studies examining the relation of self-efficacy expectations to career choice have found that both interests and self-efficacy beliefs predict the extent of consideration of occupations. Males and females tend to express higher self-efficacy for same-gender-dominated occupations than for cross-gender-dominated occupations (Ferara, 2005; Fry, 2002, 2004; Mccrink, 2002).

In a study on the Hispanic seasonal farm workers who were predominantly Mexican Americans who also participated in high school equivalency program, Mccrink (2002) revealed that women’s willingness to consider specific occupations was related to their self-efficacy, interest, and perceived incentive satisfaction for those occupations. With respect to gender, she noted that where both Hispanic men and women reported grater self-efficacy for and willingness to consider occupations dominated by their own gender, women were less willing than men to consider occupations that were not gender consistent (Mccrink, 2002).

Ntiri (2001) examined factors related to perceived career options among Native Americans, White, and Hispanic rural high school students and reported that high school students, specifically grades 6 and 11, showed greater self-efficacy for gender-consistent occupations. The women in the study, however, reported higher self-efficacy for cross-gender occupations than men, which is consistent with the strides Hispanic women have made in their career progress.

Swail et al. (2004) stated that the application of self-efficacy theory to the content of career choice seems most relevant for students with relatively high academic achievement who are able to pursue a post-secondary education. Several findings suggest that Hispanic students’ academic achievement may be improved by helping them gain more confidence in their abilities (Arbona, 1990; Baez, 2004; Bez & Fitzgerald, 1997). However, it is important to recognize that self-efficacy beliefs will enhance the probability of people engaging in specific activities or behaviors only if they count with the required skills and appropriate environmental support (Baez, 2004). When there is low self-efficacy, remedial activities will be needed to enhance both self-efficacy and academic achievement (Baez, 2004). Therefore, the enhancement of self-efficacy may have been most helpful to for Hispanic girls that, because of their low socioeconomic background or minority status, tend to understand their abilities for desired educational and vocational goals.

There is considerable evidence in the literature to suggest that social class may have a powerful impact in the formation of career-related self-efficacy. Hannah and Kahn (1989, cited in Hearn, 1992), for example, found that where male and female high school students in Canada did not differ in their overall level of self-efficacy, students from low social classes reported lower self-efficacy expectations than their counterparts, regardless of the prestige of the occupation being considered. Delgado-Gaitan’s (1992) study also revealed that social class was a dominant predictor of occupational self-efficacy among Hispanic high school students. She found that Mexican American college students reported significantly lower levels of academic expectations than their White counterparts. Furthermore, Mexican American women, whose occupational environment was confined to the home, had the lowest self-efficacy and academic ambition (Delgado-Gaitan, 1992).

Conclusion

Historical data shows that Hispanic women have faced several obstacles in their struggle to accomplish their academic and career goals. The barriers are as a result of family as well as cultural orientations that discriminated against their efforts. The other problem is associated with the system of education that seems not to favor the minority groups. However, against the backdrop of these barriers, the Hispanic women have managed to go against all odds and build strong academic foundation and successful career choices. Several theories have been constructed to explain the phenomenon, notably from the academic fraternity. The theoretical constructs of self-efficacy offers one of the most commonly used explanation. That is, the success of and increased knowledge acquired by Hispanic women can be attributed to high levels of self-efficacy and explains how a disadvantaged group can overcome obstacles to complete long academic journeys and reach heights of success.

Super’s theory suggests that there is a significant impact of race, ethnicity, and gender in the process of career development. That is career path that non-Whites took changed with time as one came to know wider concepts of available careers and what they entailed. Studies have also indicated that there is minimal difference in the reported career strategies or career expectations of Hispanic and non-Hispanic White college graduates in business. However, more gender than ethnic differences in the career aspirations and expectations among Hispanics, African Americans, and White college students is what has led to the increased success of Hispanic women as they tend to be more resilient to the barriers than any other females. The traditional belief that there are difference in attitude among the Hispanic women college students their White counterparts in career development is also not true, hence giving Super’s Theory more relevance.

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