Melba Depena

University of Rhode Island

Political Science


Mentor: Susan Franzosa

Latino Women in Higher Education: Why Aren’t Latino Women Pursuing a College Education?

The focus of my research will be to examine the reasons why there are such a disproportional number of Latino women pursing higher education. The goal of my research is to provide some suggestions to the problems Latino women encounter in their educational attainment and attempt to identify the factors which have a direct impact on this problem.

Latino women are completing high school just like any other non-Latino groups. However, Latino women are still underrepresented at both college level and graduate school level. For a long time, the roles and experience of Latino women in higher education have been neglected in research. In my summer program with the McNair Graduate Opportunity Program, I would like to use the opportunity to explore this issue further. According to past research, one of the primary factors is the struggle many Latino women face when the conflict between the traditional roles as a wife and/or mother and the decision to pursue a higher education arises. However, other researchers have suggested that personal commitment to finish college is one of the most important determinants for Latino women to pursue a college education. They have stated that personal commitment is determined by family motivation and parents acting as strong role models for their young daughters. In my research, I will try to analyze these and other suggestions to further document aspect of this question (Cardoza, 1991).

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