Navigating Diversity in the Academic and Professional World

  • Discrimination Against Women of Color, Based on Hair

    Rebecca Rodriguez, Department of Sociology 

    As a young, Hispanic female, I have grown up being taught to be proud of who I was, and to represent my culture the best way I knew how. I had no idea that kinky curly hair might not be seen as “presentable.” As I researched, however, I found that many women with kinky/curly hair feel pressured, directly or indirectly, to change the appearance of their hair from kinky curly to straight and silky. This presentation will present a plan for researching two questions: do women, particularly women of color, feel they are being judged according to the style/texture of their hair? and (2) whether women of color face discrimination in the workforce because they wear their hair a specific way.

    Using Concepts in Anthropology to Teach Tolerance

    Regan Gearhart, Department of Anthropology 

    There are several theories and concepts found within the discipline of anthropology, particularly cultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology, which can be used to teach understanding and tolerance of other cultures, races, and religions. One of the most basic principles of anthropology is the concept of emic versus etic perspectives. There is also teaching to avoid ethnocentrism found in cultural anthropology and several concepts regarding accepting accents and other forms of speech within linguistic anthropology. This presentation will consider how these conceptual tools can be deployed to promote tolerance, and how one might determine their impact.

    Latina Undergraduate Students’ Experiences with Resources at a Predominately White Institution

    Jonathan Montgomery, Department of English

    Although the number of Latino/a students attending universities across the country has increased in the past two decades, a significant gap still exists in terms of persistence and academic achievement. In fact, according to Cerezo and McWhirter (2012), only 11 percent of self-identified Latinos hold a bachelor’s degree in comparison to 34 percent of whites, indicating a significant educational disparity. While a myriad of differing factors have been proposed as possible causes for the disparity, from limited access to financial resources, to institutionalized obstacles which hinder Latino/a student integration and inclusion in the campus community, the importance of on-campus support tends to be overlooked. Predominately white institutions (PWIs) often have few campus resources that address issues faced by these students, as well as limited spaces in which they can comfortably share and discuss their experiences. Thus, the aim of this study is to provide a nuanced insight into the reported racial, ethnic, linguistic, and gendered experiences of five Latina undergraduate students attending a predominately white institution in western Pennsylvania. I explore the ways in which these students encounter on-campus resources and student organizations created for Latino/a students at the university in an effort to gauge their perspectives regarding the importance of these resources for successfully navigating a PWI.