Posts tagged ‘Hmong’

February 4, 2009

Conundrum of Gender & Education

So I must admit that as a Stanford student and a Hmong female, I am constantly bombarded with such questions: “How do you do it? What advice do you have for other Hmong females who aspire to more than just hearth and home or early marriage and 10 kids before 30?” (as if Hmong females don’t already dominate and succeed in the area of education over Hmong males. I’m not trying to get into a conversation about who gets paid more, better jobs or whatnot, but just general representation, educational attainment and participation of Hmong in institutions of higher learning.)

No offense guys, dudes, padre, but I think the numbers, our numbers speak for themselves and that all this question does (early apology for being an anthropology major and having just finished Bordieu’s Masculine Domination) is reinforce archaic denotations of gender divisions–which we admittedly all still participate in reproducing. But why isn’t this question asked as pointedly of Hmong males? Where are they in the ranks of academia? There are currently only two Hmong males at Stanford compared to six Hmong females and for the whole of our history that I am aware, Hmong females have been doin’ a majority of the representin’ at Stanford. Although that is not to say that there were not moments (i.e. the Class of 2008 ) where there were more boys than girls in attendance. :] But general trends…

What’s your take on this question? Should we keep asking of our girls, perpetuating the idea that they have more to overcome, have still a long way to go? I acknowledge the social context in which the question emerged but are we not ready to move past it? It’s a weapon of the weak. Why cling to it.

Also, I worry we are doing our boys a disservice with the question. This is a double edged sword, the question always being posed in a one way direction towards females who have pulled themselves up by the bootstraps (and are doing well), while we fail to notice the sinking ship of boys being sucked off into a vortex that is not institutions of higher education in a society increasingly invested in such notions as denotations of power and wealth.

We girls know where we’re at: UC colleges, State school with our BA’s, Stanford. But where them boys at?

–Lilian Thaoxaochay