Orale, Guey!

03Feb09

So I’m walking down the hall at school today when, suddenly, I’m halted by the sound of what I recognize to be Spanish.  Awesome!  Could it be that now there are more than 2 students out of nearly 100 in my department that are Latin? (this is no exaggeration)  No way… or I mean no, guey! If you’re Mexican or live in Cali, you’re certainly familiar with this expression which is pronounced the same as “way”, hence the title of my post but I digress…  Well, I get around the corner only to realize that it’s just the Mexican construction workers doing renovations.  WTF. What’s the deal with the disparity of Latins in the sciences?  It has to be a cultural thing because I know for a fact there are numerous opportunities for scholarships.  Some organizations are virtually begging for Latins to apply in the STEM disciplines.  I’m not hung up on race and don’t really care how many Latins are around me in a lab but more so I’m concerned with the overwhelming lack of Latins anywhere besides landscaping and construction.  At the end of the day I don’t think race really matters much but only when you have a diversity represented.  Of course the disparity is overwhelming here because there are so many low socioeconomic class immigrants that come to the US looking for a better life.  You would think, though, that after a few generations of being here, the children and grandchildren of these immigrants would strive for progress and not just by taking over the family “taqueria”. Anyway, it was just a little observation.  I had to shake my head and laugh as I walked by.  Typical.  I’ll do a more in depth analysis of the issue once I get some real statistics.

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8 Responses to “Orale, Guey!”

  1. 1 isisthescientist

    En el departamento de Isis muchos latinos son también porteros, trabajadores de construcción, etc. Pienso que esta población sufre de muchos de los mismos problemas experimentados por otras minorías en ciencia. Sin embargo, latinos sufren también de los problemas que vienen del pensamiento que son forasteros — tienen el nivel agregado de discriminación que venga con el pensamiento que no son realmente americanos.

    Pienso que la cosa más importante que podemos hacer en el avance de la comunidad latina es autorizar a gente joven para que cree que tiene un lugar legítimo en ciencia.

    Con respeto,
    Isis

  2. My $0.02:

    Noticing something doesn’t make you hung up.

    One of the profs in my department who’s most active with minority outreach stuff is Latino. It’s really nice, because I live in the South, and this place SUCKS racially. I think it’s often a matter of lack of visible role models…when something is so overwhelmingly white (at least from the outside), people can shy away or feel they don’t belong.

    Have you looked at any SACNAS stuff? http://www.sacnas.org/
    It’s kinda awesome. Maybe you could sign up for a conference, make contacts and stuff. 🙂

  3. What’s the deal with the disparity of Latins in the sciences?

    I’m at an institution with about 85% Hispanic students. Some of my observations lead me to think these factors might play into the lack of Hispanics in science:

    People who are good academically are pressured to pursue high paying professional careers (e.g., health professions).
    Family ties make people unwilling to move from a region to pursue an academic career. Academic careers usually requires several moves from institution to institution, with no easy guarantee of ending up close to family home.
    People are pressured to get jobs sooner rather than later. Even the value of years of “not working” for an undergraduate degree can be a hard sell.

  4. 4 extrovertscientist

    Dr. Isis – Estoy de acuerdo contigo sobre la mentalidad de los hispanos pero a la misma vez no entiendo porque es que otras culturas como los hindúes o los chinos son capaces de venir a los Estados Unidos con mucha ambición y avanzar en las ciencias, tecnología, administración de negocios, etc… De pronto es por la simple razón que es mas fácil trabajar que estudiar y trabajando son capaces de avanzar económicamente mas fácil. Creo que para los hispanos hay mas énfasis en trabajar y en las culturas orientes los empujan mas para estudiar. Quien sabe…

    Samia- Thanks a bunch for the link, I’ll be sure to peruse it when I have a little more free time but it definitely sounds like something I’d be interested in.

    Zen- You have a very interesting perspective on this matter. I think the best observation you made is that there is pressure to work sooner rather than later. I think that particularly for Central Americans, the cultural standard is to work hard, especially if it involves sweat. It doesn’t seem that intellectual jobs are really glorified, except for maybe like you pointed out, that of being a physician or perhaps lawyer.

    Anyway, thanks for all your input. It’s always a curiousity I’ve had and I would like to gather some data on the matter to get a better assessment of what it is that’s going on amongst the hispanic community.

  5. 5 extrovertscientist

    Dr. Isis – Estoy de acuerdo contigo sobre la mentalidad de los hispanos pero a la misma vez no entiendo porque es que otras culturas como los hindúes o los chinos son capaces de venir a los Estados Unidos con mucha ambición y avanzar en las ciencias, tecnología, administración de negocios, etc… De pronto es por la simple razón que es mas fácil trabajar que estudiar y trabajando son capaces de avanzar económicamente mas rapido. Creo que para los hispanos hay mas énfasis en trabajar y en las culturas orientes los empujan mas para estudiar. Quien sabe…

    Samia- Thanks a bunch for the link, I’ll be sure to peruse it when I have a little more free time but it definitely sounds like something I’d be interested in.

    Zen- You have a very interesting perspective on this matter. I think the best observation you made is that there is pressure to work sooner rather than later. I think that particularly for Central Americans, the cultural standard is to work hard, especially if it involves sweat. It doesn’t seem that intellectual jobs are really glorified, except for maybe like you pointed out, that of being a physician or perhaps lawyer.

    Anyway, thanks for all your input. It’s always a curiousity I’ve had and I would like to gather some data on the matter to get a better assessment of what it is that’s going on amongst the hispanic community.

  6. One thing I forgot.

    We’ve seen students — usually female — whose partners or family seem determined to sabotage the students’ prospects for continuing in education. In at least one case, there was no doubt: a family forbade one of our students to leave the area to pursue a degree after her bachelor’s.

    Why?

    Hard to say, but sometimes you can’t help thinking there’s a lot of macho bullshit behind it. Other times, it’s about familial obligations.

    • 7 extrovertscientist

      Oh yeah… I can definitely say that machismo is alive and well in the hispanic community. Merits of hispanic women include cooking, taking care of their man, and spitting out babies. Granted there is nothing wrong with any of these, but in many traditional families, the list is all-inclusive and definitive.

  7. 8 isisthescientist

    Tienes razón, hermana mia. Esta es la razón por la cual pienso que es importante ofrecer a gente joven los modelos positivos y demostrarles las oportunidades para el éxito. Por una parte, los hispanico son diferentes que hindúes o chino porque no ven a estas dos poblaciones como invasores.


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