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ERIC Number: EJ1018102
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 32
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1467-9620
Why Izzie Didn't Go to College: Choosing Work over College as Latina Feminism
Harklau, Linda
Teachers College Record, v115 n1 2013
Background/Context: Explanations for the relatively low numbers of Latinas pursuing higher education have tended to focus on socialization into traditional gender roles. However, recent scholarship has challenged this view, suggesting that gender roles--particularly among recent immigrants--are mutable and subject to constant renegotiation. Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: This article suggests that forgoing college, far from representing a retreat into traditional women's roles, might in some cases represent emergent feminism and a means for Latina immigrants to contest and reshape those roles. Setting: A new Latino diaspora community in the rural southeastern United States. Research Design: Longitudinal qualitative case study of an adolescent immigrant Latina. Findings/Results: Both risk factors and facilitative factors previously identified by research as contributing to Latino/a college enrollment were found to be present in the case study student's background. The article argues, however, that some gender-specific factors often used to explain Latina school-leaving and low academic ambitions, such as close association with teenage mothers and responsibilities for household chores and child care, served instead as deterrents for this Latina adolescent from taking traditional gender roles. On the other hand, the article argues that the association between higher education and increased independence and a break from traditional gender roles that is often assumed for American-born women did not hold for a working-class Latina. Rather, her wage-earning represented a better position from which to challenge traditional gender roles within her family. Conclusions/Recommendations: This case study confirms the heterogeneity and diversity to be found in the individual schooling paths of Latino/a immigrant youth, and thus the value of close examination of the protracted and as yet little understood process through which Latinas/os make the decision to pursue or forgo higher education over the course of high school. The article lends support to arguments in recent scholarship suggesting the mutability of gender roles in immigrant communities. It suggests that new attention be paid in research and college recruitment programs to growing evidence of gender-specific factors at work in Latino/a immigrant students' academic achievement and college-going decisions.
Teachers College, Columbia University. P.O. Box 103, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212-678-3774; Fax: 212-678-6619; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools; Grade 8; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A