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 reposting, with a little revision, my comments from that thread, because I am a lazy blogger:
Caveats: I’m at an institution (seen from above here) with about 85% Hispanic students, but I'm not Hispanic. Some of these may be regional attitudes, rather than Hispanics across the board. Still, I think the following factors might play into the lack of Hispanics in science. I'm certainly not saying they're unique or unusual to Hispanics, but I think they may be exacerbated compared to anglos.
- People who are good academically are pressured to pursue high paying professional careers (e.g., health professions). You may say, "Everyone wants their kid to be a doctor," but many Hispanics come from regions that are not well off, and this seems to make people gravitate to careers that have cash and clearly defined respectability.
- 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. Heck, even convincing families to let kids finish high school required a cultural shift.
- 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. Sometimes this argument is over familial obligations, but other times seems to be motivated by a lot of macho bullshit.
More commentary over at On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess.