Mexican-American women in leadership



A Leader is a person who gives direction to be followed by others. He/she uses management skills in guiding people toward the right destination in both smooth and in an efficient manner. A leader should be a role model to others to be followed by the people he/she is leading. Leadership can relate to either community leadership, political leadership, of the campaigning groups or religious leadership. There are some who believe that men should occupy senior positions and leave junior ones to women. However, women are capable of becoming leaders in all the positions just like men. In America, it’s hard to distinguish in between men and women on the main leadership characteristics such as innovation, creativity, and intelligence (Pew Research Centre, 1). Furthermore, some research shows that women are a bit stronger than men in being organized and compassionate leaders. This paper explores the position of Mexican- American women in leadership.

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Mexican Americans have for a long period protesting against discrimination in classes, educational policies and many others forms of discrimination. The central issues of access to a quality education and challenges to racist practices in school systems have remained consistent in protest activities throughout the twentieth century (Navarro, 1).  Mexican Americans have continued to share their stories of discrimination in schools. Their engagement in University politics ranged from being elected leaders in various capacities to holding zero offices. They found themselves participating in rallies, cultural events, organizing meetings, protests and in community service (Hernandez, 401). These students fought for equality in campuses for the Latino community in the United States.

Research indicates approximately 13 million Mexicans are living in the United States. Mexican- American women were significantly affected by schooling, family and work in the places they reside. They are the least educated as compared to other groups in the United States. Regarding education achievement, Mexican American females do better than males. Nevertheless, their quality of education is far much behind nationally as compared to other groups living in the United States. Researchers argue that discrimination in schools is the main reason of poor quality of education among the Mexican-Americans.  There were more Hispanics in circumstances where there are negative connotation and very few in positive connotation situations.

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Mexican Americans were underrepresented on school boards, in administrative work as well as in school faculties. The situation significantly affected the success of Hispanic students as they were discriminated by others and lack of enough role models. Consequently, these students were placed in different classes with ones considered to be gifted. However, as more and more blacks were enrolled in schools, this kind of discrimination in schools came to an end slowly by slowly. Since then, there has been an improvement regarding higher and quality education amongst the Mexican American women. Nowadays, there are good representations of Hispanic women who serve as mentors, peers, role models, etc. Women hold 1.2 and 0.7 percentages of faculty positions as well as the administrative positions. However, perceptions of sexism, family responsibilities, role models, and economics as well as support networks affect the full success of Mexican-American women. It is important for Mexican American women to be educated to gain skills, knowledge as well as the attitude which is important for them to be successful in their work; learn on how to relate with others, and also improve their position. By doing this, more and more Mexican-American will find themselves in leadership positions.

In workplaces

Research shows that more Hispanic women secured jobs in sales, technical, as well as in administrative positions in 1990. There was a high percentage of Hispanic women who were employed to serve in service occupations as compared to non-Hispanic females. There is a tendency of women of color being given low-level and more vulnerable positions in their places of work because of their limited skills and less education.  It is hard for these positions to offer them protection when it comes to layoffs and more so they rarely offer job advancement. In work places, the majority of Mexican-American women offer skills they have learned in their experiences as being community workers, and wives. Some of these skills include organizing, negotiating, fundraising and many others. These skills are unacknowledged by employers since they cannot be used to upgrade the poor job conditions of most of the Mexican American women: high turnover rates, labor restrictions, unions that have not yet given an opportunity for Mexican American women in various leadership positions.

According to Mexican American culture, women achievement in the labor market is less used as a measure for deciding on their importance as individuals. Pesquera (p. 116) concludes that; “among females of working class origins, family socialization serves to shape work attitudes and their behavior, whereas professional workers acknowledge the centrality of work identity and ideologically reject, in a somewhat ambivalent fashion, cultural expectations” (p. 116). The reason as to why the majority of working class are faced with obstacles in establishing their identity and what their culture expects to a greater extent than the professionals is an interesting question.

Family lives

In the most of the Mexican American families, a high percentage of families are maintained by females being heads of their families as compared to families led by males.  Families led by the female are just as strong as the ones led by men as heads. Some research shows that 23.4 percent of these families are poor. The difference between the financial requirement and lack of enough income is the main element in levels of stress faced by these women together with their families.

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The current situation

Currently, Mexican American women are moving towards the corporate sector although there are very few who have senior executive positions in the main companies. The duty of a woman in political life is changing the actual challenge for all the women in Mexico. It is done to increase their participation in leadership. Nevertheless, although there are a significant number of women leaders’ who are emerging in politics and business, they are very few in board rooms of biggest companies. Mexican women who have significantly participated in changing the world include, Selena Quintanilla who accomplished more than her fellow artists by helping to put Latin as well as Tejano music on top. Another hero is Hilda Solis who is the former Mexican cabinet secretary.  She was recognized as an incredible leader for pushing both wage and hour policies and work safety rules. It was unimaginable that she served in a Cabinet despite being brought up in a Mexican-American family.

Dolores Huerta is another Mexican- American woman leader who is the founder of the National Farm Workers Association with an aim to unite farmers to fight as well as to defend their rights. Another one is Vilma Martinez who was the first woman to be appointed as the U.S Ambassador to Argentina. Some Mexican-American women also launched an appeal to local communities to give support to farm workers as they campaigned for justice at the time of struggles for political, economic and civil rights. These actions gave a different perspective of socially conservative, wives and mothers who only demonstrated for matters only concerning the family circle. These women have a history of resistance as well as the struggle for impartiality. They have fought for change and brought a substantial impact in their communities. Scholarships on Mexicans have begun to portray them as social activists, members of the union, community builders and as responsible workers (Rose, 6).

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Views on female leadership

For the majority of women, having more female leaders is far beyond workplace equality. Some assert that having more female as leaders would lead to improving all women`s quality of living. Others say that this would affect women lives positively. On the other hand, men tend to believe that women being many in leadership positions as compared to them there are no such benefits. Women believe that societal and institutional factors are among the barriers that may make them be denied a chance to hold top leadership ranks. Consequently, female are more likely to argue that they outperform men in some of the leadership characteristics in politics and businesses. Many believe the reason as to why women fail to secure top executive jobs is because of women are unable to advance in their careers as men do which is a key barrier to women seeking leadership positions. Men should embrace women leadership which is a way to ensure gender equality in work places.


Leadership is the ability to show others direction. A leader should be a good role model to others failure to which she becomes a bad leader.   Mexican- Americans have for a long period struggled to fight for equality in schools and workplaces. They were discriminated against their race, color, and many other things. Mexican-American women were considered as wives and that they could not think nothing more than that which surrounds family cycle.  Fortunately, this discrimination is slowly coming to an end and Mexican- American women are shining. Nowadays they are securing leadership positions in various places, and they have become heroes. These include; Selena Quintanilla, Hilda Solis, Dolores Huerta, Vilma Martinez. Female is capable of leading in senior positions just like men. They are creative, innovative, honest, and compassionate and educated just like men are. Therefore, women and more so Mexican American women should be given a chance to exercise their leadership qualities without any form of discrimination. Eras are gone when women were considered as house wives while some who were learned given minor positions in leadership. Women look forward to seeing one of their own becoming the president of the United States.

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  1. Hernandez, Ebelia. “Mexican American Women’s Activism at Indiana University in the 1990S.” Journal of Higher Education, vol. 84, no. 3, May/Jun2013, pp. 397-416.
  2. Navarro, A. “Mexicano political experience in occupied Aztlán: Struggles and Change.” Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press. 2005. pp.1
  3. Pesquera, B. M. “Work gave me a lot of Confi Anza: Chicanas’ work commitment and work identity”. Aztlan, 20(1 & 2), 1991 pp.97-118.
  4. Pew Research Centre Survey, “Women and Leadership Public Says Women are Equally Qualified, but Barriers Persist” 2015, pp.1
  5. Rose, Margaret. “Woman power will stop those grapes: Chicana Organizers and Middle-Class Female Supporters in the Farm Workers’ Grape Boycott in Philadelphia 1969-1970.” Journal of Women’s History, vol. 7, no. 4, p. 6.
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