Monthly Archives: August 2009

Stereotyping Alive and Well

Sterotypes seem to die hard. Via a University of Cincinnati annual survey on racial stereotypes:

“…data for the study came from two waves of the Ohio Poll, a well-known, UC-sponsored, regularly scheduled survey of registered voters in the state of Ohio. The Ohio Poll data for this study was conducted by the UC Institute for Policy Research in November 2007 and May 2008. The researchers’ findings came from a sample of about 2,150 people.

For each person surveyed, the phone call would examine attitudes toward only one immigrant group, so that responses would not be affected by prior responses about one or more of the other groups. The poll examined five stereotypes, the extent to which people believe each group is

  • Rich versus poor
  • Intelligent versus unintelligent
  • Self-sufficient versus dependent on government assistance
  • Trying to fit in vs. staying separate from Americans
  • Violent vs. nonviolent

The researchers found that Latin Americans were rated most poorly on all of the characteristics, but equally with Middle Easterners in the violent vs. nonviolent category and in the category of being unwilling to fit in with Americans. “

With findings like these, it’s not surprising to find “guidelines” for employing Hispanics in agricultural jobs. These tips  found, on of all places, the Penn State University website.  The lowlights :

Hiring Hispanic employees is a relatively new practice for agricultural and horticultural employers in the Northeast. This page features information and links on employment eligibility and enforcement resources for agricultural employers, as well as issues relating to managing an Hispanic workforce.

What to Do in the Event of a Raid
Dairy Today published a chilling (italics mine) account of a recent raid on a dairy farm in North Dakota. The article includes a list of 10 things to do when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrives at a farm to conduct an immigration raid.

Community Relations
People in rural communities are often concerned, even frightened, when Hispanic farm workers first enter a community. Dairy managers should try to dispel these fears with factual information. Here is a discussion of some common myths about immigrant dairy farm workers.


“Some see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”
George Benard Shaw

Follow Up on Hispanics Paying for College

As a follow up to a posting last week on how Hispanics pay for college, Sallie Mae partnered with Gallup to find out how America saves for college. The comprenhensive report can be found here and is a follow up to a 2008 study on the same topic. Hispanic related highlights are below.  

  • While both African-Americans and Hispanics borrow more than the national average, African-Americans receive more grants and scholarships while choosing more expensive schools, and Hispanics receive less grants and scholarships while choosing less expensive institutions.
  • Hispanics were more likely than Whites or African-Americans to eliminate schools based on cost in the early stages of the college application process, both before researching schools and before deciding where to apply. African-American and Hispanic families were more likely than White families to eliminate colleges based on cost after admission and after finding out the financial aid package.
  • Hispanic students were most likely (62%) to live at home, higher than either African-Americans (50%) or White students (49%).
  • White families (20%) were more likely than Hispanic families (13%) to feel the student should take responsibility for college costs…
  • Roughly equal proportions of Hispanic (18%) and African-American (16%) respondents Strongly Agreed that college wasn’t affordable for their family.

Edward Kennedy: 1932- 2009

EMKThe day has been filled with tributes to Edward M. Kennedy. I will remember him as an individual who fought for those who lacked a voice regardless of background or belief. I grew up in the “Kennedy era” and clearly remember the night in 1968 when Robert Kennedy was killed in Los Angeles. The moving eulogy given about his brother still inspires me today. Edward Kennedy was a fighter. The accumulation of legislation he helped pass made life better for those less fortunate. He fought for Hispanics, African-Americans, immigrants, and all workers. Until his death yesterday, he fought for universal health care and quality education. Growing up in a Hispanic household, I remember our family always having an affinity for the Kennedy’s. Despite his critics and missteps, Edward Kennedy exemplified the “call to service.” He’ll be missed.

Dreams of a Farm Worker

Jose Hernandez was the youngest of four children born to a migrant farming family from Mexico that picked crops in California. The family’s annual “California circuit” began in February, when they arrived in California’s Central Valley and headed for the strawberry fields near the city of Ontario. During each stop he and his siblings attended school. The children didn’t work Monday through Friday, but always on the weekends. Late in the school year, when all the kids were looking forward to summer vacation, he dreaded it.

In November, after the walnuts and grapes were in, his parents, Salvador and Julia Hernandez, would pack their four children in the car and headed south through California’s Central Valley to the Mexican state of Michoacan, 1,700 miles away. The journey back home took 2 1/2 days. During the trip his father would put cans of Campbell’s soup on the engine manifold to warm up so the children could eat soup in the back seat.

Eventually, Jose Hernandez graduated from high school, attended Stockton’s University of the Pacific on a scholarship, graduating with a degree in electrical engineering, and then earned a master’s at the University of California at Santa Barbara. This story in itself would be  extraordinary – but it does not end here.

Jose Hernandez is now 41 and this coming week, he’s is taking a different kind of trip. He’s headed into space with the Space Shuttle Discovery. Jose is an expert engineer specializing in X-rays, tomography, ultrasound, and other nondestructive means of medical and materials analysis. Before joining NASA, Jose worked for the Department of Energy, where he helped develop the inspection techniques and monitoring procedures used in the disposal of 15 tons of Russian enriched uranium. And at the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the1990s, he and a colleague used experience gained working on the X-ray laser defense initiative to develop the first full-field digital mammography system for detecting breast cancer in women.

Along the way, he became president of the Society of Mexican-American Engineers and Scientists, an avid runner who has participated in the Marine Corps Marathon and the father of five children. Ironically, Jose is heading toward space next week with another Hispanic astronaut, Danny Olivas, a graduate of my alma mater, The University of Texas at El Paso. Jose and Danny take with them the dreams and aspirations of many young people all over the country– not just Hispanic Americans. 

One can imagine that Cesar Chavez, struggling for the rights of Mexican farm workers in the fields of California, dreamed of such things. This week, as the Space Shuttle streaks across the sky toward space with the son of Mexican farm workers, we can realize and appreciate the great accomplishments to be achieved through unity, perseverance, dedication, and education. Jose’s accomplishment inspires us to reach for our goals and realize that education is certainly the great equalizer.

Paying for College: A Hispanic Perspective

The Wall Street Journal has a good article on the “last minute” attempts by college students to obtain loans or some kind of aid to finance their college educations. Literally hundreds of thousands of students are finding it challenging to finance their educations due in part to recent economic times.

As grants and student loans become an increasingly important piece of higher education financing, particularly for Hispanics, here are some facts about Hispanics and how they approach financing their college education. Credit for the following information is given to Excelencia in Education.

  • In 2003-04, Hispanics were less likely to borrow than their White and Black counterparts—30 percent and 25 percent, compared with 35 and 43 percent, respectively.
  • Hispanic students are less likely to borrow to pay for college, even if they have substantial remaining financial need after receiving federal, state, or institutional grants.
  • Hispanics were more likely to borrow to attend private for-profit institutions than to attend public four-year institutions. In 2003-04, 68 percent of Hispanic undergraduates at for-profit institutions borrowed to pay for college, compared to 41 percent of Hispanics at public four-year institutions.
  • Hispanic non-borrowers (36 percent) were more likely than White students (29 percent) to work full time.
  • In focus groups, some Latino students expressed reluctance to take out loans because of concerns for repayment if they do not complete college. They would rather make their college choices based on their current economic situation while managing their family and personal responsibilities.
  • Latino students said they chose a college or university on the basis of the “sticker price,” or published price, and did not really factor in potential financial aid or the possible use of loans.

Hispanic ACT Test Takers Increasing

According to a 2009 report by ACT, an increasing number of Hispanic high school students are taking the ACT college admission and placement exam. ACT is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides more than a hundred assessment, research, information, and program management services in the broad areas of education and workforce development.

The number of Hispanics taking the exam increased 16 percent (134,000) as compared to 2008. Additionally, this is a 60 percent increase over those who took the test in 2005. Although the numbers are encouraging, only one in ten of test takers met all four of ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks. The findings show that among Hispanic ACT-tested 2009 graduates, only 48 percent (down 1% from 2008) met or exceeded the ACT benchmark score in English; 27 percent (up 1% from 2008) for college-level math; 35 percent (unchanged from 2008) in reading; and just 13 percent (unchanged) are ready for college-level science. Just 10 percent of Hispanic test-takers are college ready in all four subjects.

The increasing number might indicate that an increasing number of Hispanic students in this country are recognizing the importance of a college education and are taking the steps necessary to get there. However, not only is it important for Hispanic students to gain admission to college, they must also have the tools to succeed when they get there.

Seth on Internships

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. I’ve read many of his books and have been a “lurker” on his site for few years now. In fact, his books and blog are one of the reasons I started my own business and started to blog myself. Seth comments about unpaid internships and how they can be misused. A lost opportunity. Having worked on both sides of this topic (campus and corporate), I can attest that many organizations usually do a bad job of making internships productive. On the other hand, many students are more interested in padding their resume than gaining invaluable experience. Given current economic conditions, unpaid internships, if done right, are a win-win opportunity for both employer and student.

A "Glass Ceiling" Study

A study by North Carolina University in the August edition of Social Problems entitled “Networks of Opportunity: Gender, Race and Job Leads,” shows that White males receive significantly more tips about job opportunities than white females or Hispanics – particularly among people in upper management positions.

The study surveyed 3,000 people and examined the amount of information people received about job opportunities through routine conversations without asking for it. The findings are extraordinary but not surprising. According to the study, 95 times out of 100, white men receive more (upper-management) job leads than white women or Hispanic men or women. Another key finding contends that white male supervisory advantage is preserved through exclusive access to job information as compared to White females and Hispanics. In regard to Hispanics:  “social capital deficit compared to white males—combined with their personal and employment characteristics—explains their lack of job leads” (Mcdonald, Lin, & Ao, 2009, p.396).

The study demonstrates how the under-representation of Hispanics, women, and other minorities in management and leadership positions has far reaching, as well as long-term, implications.

Source:  Mcdonald, S., Lin, N., & Ao, D.. (2009). Networks of Opportunity: Gender, Race, and Job Leads. Social Problems, 56(3), 385-402.

GE Hispanic Business Forum

GEForumYesterday, I attended a Hispanic Business Forum sponsored by GE – Aviation which is headquartered in Cincinnati. GE – Aviation is the world’s leading producer of large and small jet engines for commercial and military aircraft. They supply aircraft-derived engines for marine applications and provide aviation services. The theme of the forum focused on Leadership during Times of Change and provided some excellent discussions on the importance of being a leader during uncertain economic times.

GE-Aviation’s CEO, David Joyce, asserted that despite the economic slow down, GE was committed to continuing their on-campus presence in the upcoming 2009-10 recruitment season. Furthermore, GE is incredibly committed to recruiting a multicultural workforce to meet the needs of their global businesses.

Speakers and leadership panels discussed how culture is a significant aspect of working within a global environment. The event also provided an opportunity to meet some extremely knowledgeable recent Hispanic college graduates. Most were involved in science and technology careers. I was most impressed by GE’s commitment to bringing together hundreds of Hispanic professionals to discuss some of the issues facing leaders today.