Sunday, April 11, 2010

For Latinos, college gender gap growing ~ CHICAGO TRIBUNE

For Latinos, college gender gap growing



CHICAGO — Luis Rivera's life is a delicate balancing act with shifts at the University of Illinois' Chicago campus for as long as 12 hours a day, caring for his two young children and working as a research assistant at the school's College of Medicine.

Luis Rivera, a University of Illinois at Chicago student, drops off  his two children, Cosette, 5, and Andres, 2, at a preschool on campus.  The single father begins medical school in the fall.
Luis Rivera, a University of Illinois at Chicago student, drops off his two children, Cosette, 5, and Andres, 2, at a preschool on campus. The single father begins medical school in the fall.

Rivera, of Chicago, will complete his bachelor of arts with a major in Latin American and Latino studies, and is determined to succeed in medical school, which he starts this fall. But when he graduated high school nearly 16 years ago, he, like many of his Latino male counterparts, sidelined a college experience so he could work full time.

"I just felt so uncomfortable — I figured, you know, maybe the school thing just isn't me," Rivera, 33, said recently at UIC's Latin American Recruitment and Enrollment Services office, while holding his son Andres, 2.

Rivera's initial decision to skip college is typical among Hispanic men. While undergraduate enrollment among Hispanic men and women have spiked in the last decade, Latinas are by far outpacing their male counterparts, according to a recent study released by the American Council on Education.

In the past decade, college enrollment among Latina women increased by 70 percent, compared with 56 percent among Latino men, said Jacqueline King, the study's author.

The study, Gender Equity in Higher Education: 2010, was released in January by the council, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that researches education issues.

The gender gap in college admissions seems to have plateaued among other ethnic and racial groups, except for Hispanics, according to the study. And Hispanic men continue to have the lowest bachelor's degree attainment level of any of the groups studied — 10 percent.

Several factors contribute to the disparity between Hispanic men and women attending college, experts say.

In general, immigrant children have a harder time in school than non-immigrants, studies say. And a greater percentage of young adult Hispanic immigrants are male, about two-thirds, compared with female Hispanic immigrants, according to the ACE study.

Non-English speaking foreign-born children and those whose parents are immigrants tend to lack the ability to articulate thoughts into writing and can have difficulties comprehending what they have read, said Theresa Montano, a professor in the department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at California State University, Northridge.

"Imagine that all students are at a starting line, but that Latino children are starting from 2 feet behind [everyone else]," Montano said.

A Pew Hispanic Center study released in October, "Latinos and Education: Explaining the Attainment Gap," showed that about half of the Hispanics surveyed said limited English skills kept them from continuing their education. And the study showed that less than 30 percent of Hispanic immigrants aspire to earn a bachelor's degree, compared with 60 percent of native-born Hispanics.

"Young Hispanic immigrants are not necessarily in the country for school. They're here to work," said Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director at the Pew Hispanic Center and author of the attainment gap report.

Hispanic males struggle with the roles they often play in the household — those of breadwinners responsible for contributing to the family expenses. They are more prone to enter the workforce at an earlier age rather than complete college or even high school, Montano said.

Rivera, the UIC student, chose to work as an electrician after initially dropping out of college. For years, he earned a decent living. But in the back of his mind he knew he wanted to be a doctor, he said.
Unidos Venceremos! United We Will Win!
~Peta-de-Aztlan~ Sacramento, California, Amerika

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible,
make violent revolution inevitable."
~ President John F.Kennedy ~ Killed November 22, 1963

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