Hispanic people start leaping over barriers to better jobs

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Earlier this month, Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed as a member of the US Supreme Court, the first judge of Puerto Rican descent to be appointed. It is an encouraging result for both women and Hispanic people in the United States. Could it be that the barriers are at last crumbling for Hispanic people trying to reach high-ranking positions?

In the United States, people of Hispanic origin are notably underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and high achievers are rare. Although the proportion of Hispanic students enrolling in post-secondary courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in 2001 was the same as that of white or black ethnic groups, only 16% completed a bachelor's degree in these fields, compared with nearly 30% of white students (see http://tinyurl.com/ms9kpr). This picture has barely changed: according to the US Department of Labor, by 2012 about 15% of all US jobs will be filled by Hispanic workers, but only 1% will be at executive level.

With Hispanic people and their descendants expected to reach 30% of the total US population by 2050, closure of this gap comes none too soon.

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Torres-Reveron, A. Hispanic people start leaping over barriers to better jobs. Nature 460, 949 (2009) doi:10.1038/460949b

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