Though the social movements of the 1960s and 70s have boosted women's ability to achieve educational and professional success, minority women still fight a double barrier in reaching such goals, say several local professionals.
Speaking to a conference of the American Association of University Women on Saturday, four women panelists told of the struggle their particular ethnic groups still face in achieving the liberties guaranteed under the Constitution.They said the combination of being a woman and a minority is particularly difficult when society doesn't expect significant achievement from them.
Rose Alvarado, program coordinator for the office of equal opportunity at the University of Utah, disputed the notion that minority families don't encourage their children to succeed. "My experience is that Hispanic families have very high expectations of their children, but many times in the school system, you don't see any expectations of them."
That becomes a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, she said, adding that Utahns are as prejudiced as other Americans, though they prefer to think otherwise.
Betty Stewart Moore, a former race relations orientation specialist at Hill Air Force Base, agreed. She acknowledged that predominantly black schools "may not always have the highest academic environment, but they do have a nurturing and networking attitude . . . If people reject you, we feel it and are very sensitive to it." She asked educators to provide the same type of nurturing for minority students as they do for others.
"According to my personal experience, black (parents) are interested first in their families doing better than they have done. They love and hate, are good and evil, in direct proportion to all other people in the world. To look different doesn't mean we are different."
Yet the difference in looks has set the stage for past injustices that still have repercussions today. Jeanette Misaka, assistant clinical professor of special education at the U., told of the internment she and her family were forced to endure during World War II as Japanese Americans, and of discrimination that followed her as she went to college and became an educator.
Even buying a home locally proved an experience in discrimination. "They had to ask the neighbors on all sides to make sure it was okay for us to be there."