Graphics in this article are from the World Economic Forum website: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/04/women-s-education-gender-gap-latin-america/
Higher education has always been a gateway to opportunities and a better future. However, the landscape of higher education, especially for Latinas and Hispanics, has been changing rapidly in recent years. Here, we delve into the current scenario and the likely future trajectory of Latinas in college and higher education.
Navigating Through The Post-Pandemic Era
2022 was a year of transition as we strived to regain normalcy after two years of campus shutdowns, remote learning, and mask mandates. The anxiety of figuring out how to safely return to in-person learning was a significant challenge. Despite these issues, politics continued, bills were passed, and the midterm elections for the 118th Congress were carried out.
Key Changes in Higher Education Policies
Student Loan Forgiveness: A Ray of Hope?
One of the most significant announcements in 2022 was the potential for student loan forgiveness. President Joe Biden declared that federal student loan borrowers earning less than $125,000 annually (or $250,000 if filing taxes jointly) could be eligible for $10,000 in loan forgiveness. This announcement sparked controversy, and the outcome now hinges on court hearings set for the new year. This is particularly important to the Latino community as it continues to be a minority affected by lower pay jobs making studying less affordable to them.
DACA/DREAMERS: The Future of the Dream Act
One of the likely changes in 2023 is the potential termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, instituted by former President Obama in 2012. If this happens, Congress will be under pressure to enact a "Dream Act" law that would expedite green card access for at least those undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US at an early age and attended school here.
College Rankings: The End of an Era?
The credibility of the U.S. News College Rankings is under scrutiny. Prestigious colleges like Harvard and Yale have expressed concerns that the formula rewards wealth and privilege, making it increasingly difficult to achieve racial diversity. This could lead to colleges creating their own marketing strategies, based on their unique missions.
A New Approach to College Education: The Influence of Latinas
The traditional model of 'four years of college just after high school graduation' has been challenged extensively over the last few years. With the advent of various new options for attaining a college degree, the fall of 2023 is predicted to witness a spectrum of options. Latinos, the fastest growing but also the fastest assimilating identity group in America, could lead the way to new models of integrating study, work, family, and aspirations.
Hispanics Lawmakers: The Rise of a New Era
The 118th Congress will see a record of at least 45 Hispanic-heritage lawmakers serving. This can affect a series of initiatives affecting the group.
The Rise of Educated Latinas Worldwide: A Step Towards Gender Equity
In Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 6 out of 10 women go to college today, compared to less than half of men. This is a substantial increase from 1970 when only 5% of women were educated beyond secondary school. This increase in educational investment has been crucial in building gender equity.
Transforming Education for Women in Latin America
According to UNESCO, Latin America and the Caribbean rank second in the world for gender parity in higher education. The region’s gender gap in higher education began to reverse in 1993. This transformation has made it possible for women to contribute significantly to sustainable development and reduce economic inequality.
Investing in Women’s Education: The Payoff
Investing in women's education has proved to yield substantial returns. The World Economic Forum’s Catalysing Education 4.0 calculated that investing in education could add $2.54 trillion to the global economy. This investment includes reimagining education systems to become more inclusive, focusing on teaching the skills needed to succeed in a digitally transformed world, and using innovative technologies and techniques to increase reach.
Latin America and the Caribbean stand to benefit greatly from such investments. Improving collaborative problem-solving skills could result in an additional $145 billion in GDP for Brazil alone. Countries like Peru, Colombia, and Mexico are also expected to make significant strides.
The Road Ahead: Uncertain Payoffs and The Need for Inclusivity
While education is proven to increase women’s earnings and labor force participation, the returns are inconsistent, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. A 2022 report from the Center for Global Development emphasizes the need for coalitions between government, civil society, and other stakeholders to build gender equity rather than focusing on women’s education in isolation.
Latinometrics underlines that as more women pursue college-level education in Latin America and the Caribbean, labor markets must also be ready for them. This means recognizing the skills women bring and offering flexibility to their needs. Education is a human right, and it's up to all members of society to ensure the equitable provision of learning for women and girls.
Latinas and College - A Changing Landscape
As we move into 2023, the landscape of higher education, especially for Latinas, is changing dramatically. The shifts in policy, the evolving nature of college education, and the rise of Latina representation in higher education are reshaping the future. It's a future full of promise, but one that also demands flexibility, inclusivity, and a commitment to gender equity. As society continues to adapt to these changes, it's clear that Latinas will play a significant role in defining the future of higher education. The journey of Latinas and college is not just an individual journey; it's a societal one that has the potential to reshape our collective future.
In HAPBWA Foundation we are committed to helping Latinas in College achieve higher education and finish their degrees which is why we will be collaborating with other organizations to help make this happen.
Connect with the HAPBWA Foundation
Want to continue getting valuable articles like this one? Sign up below for the HAPBWA Foundation Newsletter. Want to meet other amazing professional women and mompreneurs? Would like to volunteer or become a trustee? Get involved!
HAPBWA Foundation for Hispanic American Professional & Businesswomen
FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA: