Abstract: Varied Experiences of Latina Immigrants: Understanding the Role of Sex in Perceptions of Discrimination Among Dominican Immigrant Women (Society for Social Work and Research 15th Annual Conference: Emerging Horizons for Social Work Research)

46P Varied Experiences of Latina Immigrants: Understanding the Role of Sex in Perceptions of Discrimination Among Dominican Immigrant Women

Friday, January 14, 2011
* noted as presenting author
Beverly Araujo Dawson, MSW, PhD, Assistant Professor, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY and Mayra Lopez Humphreys, MSW, Assistant Professor, Nyack College, Ny, NY
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE. Research on the intersectionality of social identities posits that individuals with multiple marginalized identities are more likely to experience discrimination, particularly among women (Hancock, 2007; Purdie, Vaughns & Eichbach, 2008). As an increasing number of Latinas immigrate to the U.S., they are often targets of discrimination based on their ethnicity, race and sex, which can detrimentally affect their life chances and mental health (Araujo & Borrell, 2006). Unfortunately, the existing research on sex differences and the reporting of discrimination is conflicting. Such research should consider how the acculturation process affects perceptions of discrimination given the evidence that Latino females are believed to acculturate at faster rates than their male counterparts (Grasmuck & Pessar, 1991; Hondagneu, 1994; Jones-Correa, 1998). The present paper seeks to fill this research gap by examining the relationship between sex and discriminatory experiences. Additionally acculturation level as a predictor of higher discrimination for Dominican immigrant women after controlling for transnationalism, age, self-esteem, education, employment status and acculturation level will be examined. METHODS: A convenience sample of 283 adult Dominican immigrants was recruited from four community program sites to participate in a one hour survey in a predominantly Dominican neighborhood in New York City. Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analyses were performed to assess the relationship between sex and perceived discrimination (Major Racist Events), while controlling for selected covariates (education level, socioeconomic level time in the U.S., age, self-esteem, transnationalism, employment status and acculturation level). A second OLS regression was conducted in order to determine the relationship between acculturation and discrimination for Dominican women only. With the small number of Latino males in the sample, this was done by analyzing the females only rather than by including both males and females and an interaction between sex and the other covariates. The majority of the participants were female (85%), between the ages of 18-49 years old (71%), and resided in the U.S. less than 20 years (69%). Almost half the participants had completed high school (49%), 38% were unemployed and 73% earned less than $10,000 a year. RESULTS: Overall results support reveal Dominican males were significantly more likely to report experiencing discrimination compared to Dominican females (standardized = -.18, p < .01). However, highly acculturated Dominican women were more likely to report discriminatory experiences ( = .13, p < .10). CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: Finding demonstrate that Dominican males in the study reported significantly higher prevalence of discrimination compared to Dominican females, while high acculturation levels was a more important predictor of greater discrimination for females than for the sample as a whole. Our findings support the need for greater understanding of the role of sex and acculturation level on the perceptions of discrimination. Future studies would do well to take into account stressors that are specifically related to ethnicity and sex. It is imperative that social workers and social work researchers understand the unique factors that predict perceptions of discrimination among the growing Latino population the U.S. given the detrimental impact has on mental health.