The Empowerment of Latin Sorority Women

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The Empowerment of Latin Sorority Women Gender Perceptions in Latin Sororities
Bovell, Lola
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (75 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( M.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Women's Studies
Committee Chair:
Evans, Stephanie Y.
Committee Members:
Pena, Milagros
Anantharam, Anita
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
College students ( jstor )
Colleges ( jstor )
Focus groups ( jstor )
Fraternities ( jstor )
Gender identity ( jstor )
Gender roles ( jstor )
Hispanics ( jstor )
Sororities ( jstor )
Universities ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
Women's Studies -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
gender, latin, sorority
Miami metropolitan area ( local )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Women's Studies thesis, M.A.


Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts THE EMPOWERMENT OF LATIN SORORITY WOMEN: GENDER PERCEPTIONS IN LATIN SORORITIES By Lola Sophia Bovell May 2009 Chair: Stephanie Evans Major: Women's Studies This research project serves as a study on the topic of Latin Greek life and its impact on members' gender identity development. The purpose of this study is to understand how membership in a Latin sorority influences members' views and perceptions of gender. In order to achieve this understanding, the participants' perceptions and background on the topic of gender were analyzed. This is followed by an analysis of the college influences on gender identity, gender expectations within the sorority, traditions and activities the sorority takes part in, and the sorority expectations with sexuality issues and non-heterosexual members. This analysis illuminates how gender identity is defined within the Latin sorority, how gender is performed in the Latin sorority, and how these organizations influence members' gender identity development. Since this is an initial study, limitations are discussed as well as recommendations for future study. ( en )
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
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This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Adviser: Evans, Stephanie Y.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Lola Bovell.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Bovell, Lola. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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LD1780 2009 ( lcc )


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2 2009 Lola Sophia Bovell


3 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to first thank my committee chair, Dr. Stephanie Evans, for her support in this project. Since our first encounter, she has been a mentor and guide with my academic endeavors. It is because of her high expectations that I have found the motivation to achieve my highest potential. I would also like to thank my committee members, Dr. Milagros Pea and Dr. Anita Ananthar am, for their diverse set of contributions and suggestions. Their varying areas of experience challenged me to get outside of my insider role in this work. I especially would like to thank Dr. Juan Guardia for his constant, selfless support throughout my writing process. His knowledge and expertise in the area of Latin fraternities and sororities was extremely helpful and I cannot imagine having completed this project without his guidance. I am extremely grateful for the encouragement that my friends, s orority sisters, and family provided me throughout this process. My best friend, Linda, and her chant, You can do it Lola! never ceased to make me smile, and my family never ceased to be a strong foundation for me to count on. My sorority sisters were always willing to assist in any way possible and it is because of them that I even decided to make this project a reality. Finally, I would like to thank my fianc, Danny Chacon, for his never -ending love and patience. His belief in my success was sometim es stronger than my own, and for that I am eternally grateful.


4 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................................... 3 LIST OF TABLES ................................................................................................................................ 6 ABSTRACT .......................................................................................................................................... 7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................................... 8 Purpose ......................................................................................................................................... 13 Research Questions ..................................................................................................................... 13 Placement of t he Study ............................................................................................................... 14 Significance of the Study ............................................................................................................ 14 Summary ...................................................................................................................................... 16 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ........................................................................................................... 19 Origin of Latin Fraternities and Sororities ................................................................................. 20 Gender Studies w ithin Greek Life .............................................................................................. 23 Latin Students in College ............................................................................................................ 28 Summary ...................................................................................................................................... 29 3 METHODOLOGY ...................................................................................................................... 30 Methodological Approach .......................................................................................................... 30 Insider/Outsider Status ................................................................................................................ 32 Changes in Study ......................................................................................................................... 32 Summary ...................................................................................................................................... 33 4 PARTICIPANT PROFILES ....................................................................................................... 34 Katie ............................................................................................................................................. 34 Nicole ........................................................................................................................................... 35 Rose .............................................................................................................................................. 36 Daisy ............................................................................................................................................ 37 Jackie ............................................................................................................................................ 37 Summary ...................................................................................................................................... 38 5 ANALYSIS ................................................................................................................................. 40 Understanding of Gender ............................................................................................................ 40 Gender Roles ............................................................................................................................... 41 College Influences ....................................................................................................................... 43


5 Traditions and Activities ............................................................................................................. 45 Sexuality Issues ........................................................................................................................... 46 Latin Greek Community as a Whole .......................................................................................... 48 Focus Group ................................................................................................................................ 49 Summary of Key Themes ........................................................................................................... 52 6 RECOMMEN DATIONS AND PERSONAL REFLECTIONS .............................................. 54 Recommendations for Future Study .......................................................................................... 54 Limitations of the Study ............................................................................................................. 54 College Opportunities for Learning About Gender .................................................................. 55 Personal Reflections .................................................................................................................... 57 APPENDIX A GLOSSARY ................................................................................................................................ 58 B INVITATION TO STUDY ........................................................................................................ 60 C INTERVIE W QUESTIONS ....................................................................................................... 63 D FOCUS GROUP QUESTIONS ................................................................................................. 67 E INFORMED CONSENT ............................................................................................................ 68 LIST OF REFERE NCES ................................................................................................................... 71 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................................................................................................. 75


6 LIST OF TABLES Table P age 4 1 Study Participants ................................................................................................................... 34


7 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts THE EMPOWERMENT OF LATIN SORORITY WOMEN: GENDER P ERCEPTIONS IN LATIN SORORITIES By Lola Sophia Bovell May 2009 Chair: Stephanie Evans Major: Womens Studies This research project serves as a stu dy on the topic of Latin Greek l ife and its impact on members gender identity development. The purpose of this study is to understand how membership in a Latin sorority influences members views and perceptions of gender. In order to achieve this understanding, the participants perce ptions and background on the topic of gender we re analyzed. This is followed by an analysis of the college influences on gender identity, gender expectations within the sorority, traditions and activities the sorority takes part in, and the sorority expec tations with sexuality issues and nonheterosexual members. This analysis illuminates how gender identity is defined with in the Latin sorority, how gender is performed in the Latin sorority, and how these organizations influence members gender identity d evelopment. Since this is an initial study, limitations are discussed as well as recommendations for future study.


8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The Hispanic population in the United States is very large and growing at an extremely fast pace. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population in the United States in 2006 was 44.3 million, making them 14.8% of the total population (U.S. Cens us Bureau 2006). The population of Hispanics living in the United States has been steadily increasing for the last ten years. Between 2000 and 2006 Hispanics accounted for one -half of the nations growth (U.S. Census Bureau 2006). These numbers show th at the Hispanic population is growing faster than any other community in the United States. According to the Americas Global Foundation, Hispanics are the largest minority in the United States (Americas Global Foundation 2004). By 2050 the Hispanic popula tion in the United States is projected to be 102.6 million (U.S. Census Bureau 2006). It is important to note that the census is taken once every ten years, and the information listed above was taken from the 2000 census. Before continuing with important data about the Hispanic population, it is important to have a general understanding of what the term Hispanic means. According to Alcoff (2005) The term Latino signifies people from an entire continent, sub -continent, and several large islands, with diverse racial, ethnic, national, and linguistic aspects to their identity. The terms Hispanic and Latino have different historical backgrounds, and the decision to use either term can be controversial. (Hispanic and Latino) explains the foundations of both terms: The term Hispanic is an Anglo -American inventio n. In 1972, President Richard Nixon and his administration created the category of Hispanic. It was a response to the Civil Rights Movement and the parallel Chicano Movement that began in the 1960s. It began to be applied in official contexts, beginning with the U.S. Census in 1980, which is used to count ethnic groups in the U nited States. The term Latino refers to the original European Conquistador s and invaders from Spain and Portugal. Th eir languages derive from the Latin language used in the Roman Empire, which included Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy. Latino is Spanish for Latin Thus, the term Latino is European in its orientation. (p. 1)


9 For the purposes o f this res earch study, the terms Hispanic, Latino/a and Latin will be used interchangeably. Urban youth within the United States often drop the letter o in Latino when describing a person of Hispanic or Latino origin. It is also important to note that the word Latino in the Spanish language incorporates gender because of the letter o. Latino refers to a Hispanic male and Latina refers to a Hispanic female. By using the word Latin instead of Latino or Latina, a gender neutral version of the word is f ormed. As defined, the Hispanic population includes a wide range of different types of people. For example, Hispanic people can be of many races. Cassidy and Grieco (2001) from the U.S. Census Bureau displayed the diversity of race within the Hispanic et hnicity: Nearly half (48 percent) of Hispanics reported only White, while approximately 42 percent reported on some other race, when resp onding to the question of race. Less than 4 percent of Latinos reported Black or African America n alone, American I ndian and Alaska Native alone, or Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone (p. 10) Therefore, the Hispanic identity is not to be confused with race. It would be a mistake to consider the Hispanic identity to be a racial identity beca use the Hispanic identity is multi racial. Whe n explaining this issue further Montalban -Anderson (1998) states that Hispanics are not Hispanic because they look different. They are Hispanic because their culture or origin was originally associated with Spain rather than E ngland. Hispanic is not a race; o n the contrary, Hispanic civilization has always been multiracial (p. 1). Beyond racial identity, the Hispanic population is generally very diverse, encompassing many social classes and cultural norms. As the number of Latino people increase in the United States, the number of Latino people in higher education increase. While this is the case, Latino people have a significantly lower percentage of people getting higher education degrees than the population as a whole. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24.5% of Hispanic mal es 25 and older received less than a ninth grade education, 58.7% received a high school diploma or more, and 11.5% received a


10 b achelors degree or higher (U.S. Census Bureau 2006). In comparison, 6.7% of the overall male population that is 25 and older i n the U.S. received less than a ninth grade education, 83.5% received a high school diploma or more, and 27.9% received a b achelors degree or higher (U.S. Census Bureau 2006). These numbers show a huge disparity between the education levels of the overal l male population and the Hispanic male population. In addition, it was shown by the U.S. Census Bureau that 23.3% of Hispanic females 25 and older received less than a ninth grade education, 61.7% received a high school diploma or higher, and 13.1% recei ved a b achelors degree or more (U.S. Census Bureau 2006) In comparison, 6.3% of the overall female population that is 25 and older in the U.S. received less than a ninth grade education, 83.5% received a high school diploma or more, and 27.9% received a b achelors degree or more (U.S. Census Bureau 2006). These numbers show the same overall disparity in education levels between Hispanic females and females living in the U.S. overall. It is also important to note that Hispanics as a whole are earning a ssociate degrees significantly more than bachelors degrees. The coordinating board reported that the percentage of Hispanics receiving associate degrees and certificates awarded by two year colleges has grown twice as fast as the percentage of those ear ning bachelors degrees at four year institutions (Associated Press 2006). According to the United States Census Bureau, just as Hispanic women are receiving more bachelors degrees, they are receiving more associate degrees (U.S. Census Bureau 1999). Desp ite the particular area of growth with associate degrees, Hispanics are still behind in the area of education. In order for the Hispanic population to stop lagging in the area of education, something needs to be done to make the numbers of the Hispanic po pulation more similar to the overall populat ion. F or the purpose of this study however the specific area that will be looked at in terms of these statistics is the area of higher education. According to the


11 U.S. Census Bureau the overall population with a b achelors degree or higher is about 27%, while the over all Hispanic population with a bachelors degree or higher is about 12% (U.S. Census Bureau 2006). Other than helping Latino students get to college, it is also very important to make sure they gr aduate. The statistics provided by the U.S. Census Bureau shed light on the disparities that exists within higher education. This issue needs to be dealt with, and quickly, because as shown previously, the Latino population in the United States is increa sing at very rapid rates. Student development is the overall social, personal and academic development a student experiences in college, and is an extremely important aspect of college life. Not only does it help universities with their retention rates, but it also helps students feel comfortable and happy in their campus settings. The more students develop during college, the better equipped they will be when confronting real life situations. One of the main components of student development is student involvement. Astin (1984) found that the greater the students involvement in college, the greater will be the amount of student learning and personal development (p. 307). The more involved and engaged students are with campus life, the more likely they are to graduate and be successful after college. Foubert (2006) articulates the importance of involvement in terms of s tudent development as well: More involved students reported greater developm ent in moving through autonomy toward interdependence and establishing and c larifying purpose. Uninvolved students had consistently lower developmental score s. Students who joined or led organizations reported more development than tho se who just attended a meeting. (p. 1) Therefore, student involvement is key to the development of students in the college sett ings. This is no different for Hispanic students. Latino students get involved in many aspects of student life. The involvement opportunities that Hispanic students take part in can ra nge from orienta tion leaders and student


12 government officials to university athletes. One of the major ways in which Latino students are getting involved is through Latin fraternities and sororities. The history of these organizations will be discussed further in the Li terature Review section, but it is a common understanding that they are fairly new and growing at rapid rates. Because they are very new the amount of research done of Latin sororities and fraternities is not as large as research in other areas of Greek life, such as primarily Caucasian sororities and fraternities. The fact that there is not a significant amount of research on Latin Greek organizations poses a problem. For the purpose of this study, the words Latin fraternity and sorority and Latin Greek organizations will be used interchangeably. The research that has been done on Latin fraternities and sororities has mostly dealt with the development and origin of t hese organizations. For example Kimbroughs Guess whos coming to campus. The growth of Black, Latin and Asian fraternal organizations (2003) and Mejias Hispanics go Greek (1994) both provide information about how Latin Greek organizations were started and how they are continuing to grow. Guardia (2006) and Nuez (2004) both wrote studies on ethnic identity development within Latin Greek organizations as well. Therefore, there has been some research, but nowhere near enough to get a full grasp of the influence these organizations are going to have on members. Usually Latin Greek organizations promote principles and mottos that involve empowerment, unity, diversity, etc. For example, Alpha Psi Lambda National Inc.s mission statement is To promote continued personal and collective growth of our membership, success and unity through education, leadership, culture awareness and community service (Alpha Psi Lambda official website). Another example is Kappa Delta Chi Sorority Inc. The purpos e as listed on their website is The purpose of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority Inc. is to promote the traditional values of Unity, Honesty, Integrity, and Leadership at its respective univers ities


13 (Kappa Delta Chi official website). Ideally, because the organizations stand for specific values there is an understanding of how the members are being influenced and what they are being taught. Realistically however, it is important to research th e culture of the Latin Greek organizations on a deeper level so that a thorough analysis of the influence the organizations have can be understood. Although some of the research studies done on Latin fraternities and sororities have made gender a part of what was being researched, there have been no studies that ful ly examine the influences that Latin fraternities and sororities have on members gender identity development. This study begins to fill that gap by analyzing how a Latin sorority impacts membe rs perceptions of gender. Purpose The purpose of this study is to understand how participation in a Latin sorority influences members views on gender. The study also examines how membership in a Latin sorority influences gender identity development. By illuminating the gender expectations that occur within the organization, the influence it has on members perceptions of gender become clear. Research Questions How is gender identity defined within the Latin sorority? How is gender performed in a Latina sorority? How does membership in a Latin sorority influence members gender identity development? These research questions were chosen in order to get an understanding of the gender expectations that occur within the organization. This is then followed by the last question, which focuses on the influence the organization has on members perceptions of gender and gender identity development.


14 Placement of the Study This study took place in a s outheastern university in the United States with a predominantly Caucasian population. This university will go by the pseudonym of University College for the purpose of maintaining confidentiality. University College has a very large student population with over forty thousand students, and is considered to be one of t he largest universities in its region and in the United States. It is also very competitive in terms of its admissions standards and considered one of the most difficult universities to get into within its region. The students that were asked to participat e in the study are members of a Latin sorority. The five participants are members of the same Latin sorority. For the purpose of confidentiality in this study, the name Phi Delta will be used in the place of the sororitys actual name. I am a part of th e national organization Phi Delta and acknowledge that this can be considered a conflict of interest; however, in the context of this study the insider point of view was more effective because there was a foundation of trust allowing for more honest and insightful responses. I elaborate on this topic more in the methodology section. Significance of the Study The significance of this study on gender and Latin sorority members is to serve as an initial study for more research on the influence of Latin sor ority AND fraternity membership on its members views and perceptions of gender As stated previously, there is little research done on Latin sororities and fraternities and with their continuous popularity and growth, these organizations have the potenti al to have a huge impact on the Latino population living in the United States. As a feminist scholar, gender issues are at the forefront of my academic interests and concerns. Womens identity and how they form this identity is extremely important in re gards to this study. Josselson (1972) explains the complexity of womens identity:


15 Identity in women cannot be simply named, for it resides in the pattern that emerges as a woman stitches together an array of aspects of herself and her investments in othe rs. A woman is, then, not a this or a that (mother, lawyer, wife, secretary, etc.), for these can only be pieces of herself. A woman is how she weaves it all into a whole, articulating herself in the world with others and simultaneously making privat e sense of it. (p. 9) In addition to analyzing the women in Latin sororities identity development, this research study will also be coming from the theory standpoint of gender as a social structure. Risman (2004) describes theoretical traditions that hav e developed to explain gender: The first tradition focuses on how individual sex differences originate, whether biological (Udry 2000) or social in origin (Bem 1993). The second tradition, perhaps portrayed best in Epsteins (1988) Deceptive Distinctions emerged as a reaction to the first and focuses on how the social structure (as opposed to biology or individual learning) creates gendered behavior. The third tradition, also a reaction to the individualist thinking of the first, emphasizes social intera ction and accountability to others expectations, with a focus on how doing gender creates and reproduces inequality (West and Zimmerman 1987). (p. 430) This study seeks to illuminate gender within the theoretical contexts of the second and third tradit ions mentioned above. Risman (2004) mentions how the social structure creates gendered behavior. In the case of this study, the social structure that will be examined is the Latin sorority. By asking the participants about their experiences with gender within the sorority context, the created gendered behavior will be brought to the forefront. The gender expectations and influences that would usually go unnoticed will finally be illuminated. In addition to getting an understanding of the gendered behavior that is created in Latin sororities, this study also hopes to bring to light gender identity issues within the Latin Greek community in the higher education context. As stated previously, Guardia (2006) and Nuez (2004) did studies on ethnic identi ty development within the Latin Greek system. Although their studies contained gender issues, gender was not the main focus of the studies. Since this study focuses on gender identity even though it also demonstrates its intersections with race, ethnicit y,


16 class and sexuality, it hopes to add a significant gender analysis to the literature that already exists. This study also hopes to display the assumptions made about gender in the Latin Greek culture and eventually, how those assumptions can be done awa y with to avoid gender stereotypes. I acknowledge that I come into the study with the assumption that Latin Greeks perpetuate certain gender stereotypes. As an insider I have had a significant amount of involvement with the Latino Greek culture and have my own observations and critiques. Therefore, my own experience in a Latin sorority has given me my own ideas on how these organizations do gender, but to simply write this study from my own observations would be biased and one sided. By interviewing sorority women of diverse backgrounds, I was able to get an array of opinions and then was able to more adequately produce a research study that demon strates the influences Latin sororities have on their membership. The information from this research proj ect also potentially could assist student affairs administrations with members of Latin sororities. By illuminating some of the Latin Greek culture dynamics and assumptions, there can be a greater understanding and cooperation between administrators and m embers of Latin fraternities and sororities. Summary In this study, I analyze how membership in a Latin Sorority influences its members views and perceptions of gender. More specifically, I illuminate the gender role expectations that exist within the o rganization as well as how these organizations influence their members gender identity development. Since ethnic background is an essential aspect of this study (the research is on Latin sorority members), ethnicity plays a key role in how and why member s are influenced in the ways that they are. This study also examines gender within the sorority context through the lens of sexuality. The way in which the sorority culture deals with sexuality is


17 analyzed in order to have a better understanding of how ge nder is performed within this context. This study displays all of these connections to create a general understanding of how participation in a Latin sorority influences members views, thoughts, and perceptions of gender. In C hapter 2, I provide a l ite rature review on the scholarly work that currently exists on the experiences and implications of Latin sorority and f raternity life. This chapter is broken up into three sections. The first section provides information on the origin of Latin fraternities and sororities. The second section gives an overview of the research that has been done with gender and sex -segregated spaces including fraternities and sororities. The third section provides an overview of the scholarly work that has been done on the L atin student experience. Chapter 3 is the methodology section in which I elaborate on the reasoning for my choice of data collection. This study is comprised of five individual interviews with members of a Latin sorority, a focus group session with all five interviewees, and ethn ographic observations of the participants and the Latin Greek lifestyle. Chapter 4 has participant profiles of the interviewees so that their responses can be put into the diverse contexts of their lives. These Latin sorority members come from very different backgrounds, and have varying viewpoints and perceptions of gender as a foundation because of their varying backgrounds. Before an analysis of how the sorority as a whole influences their views on gender, an overview of their backgroun d must be made and this chapter serves that purpose. Chapter 5 provides the analysis for the data collected from the individual interviews, focus group, and ethnographic observations. Themes that were found in the data collection are illuminated and analy zed.


18 Chapter 6 discusses recommendatio ns for future study as well as my own personal reflections after the study was completed. In addition, it provides suggestions for higher education officials with the purpose of eliminating gender -based discrimination.


19 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Latin sororities and fraternities are fairly new in the Greek life system; however, fraternities and sororities on university campuses have been the foundation of college life for many students for centuries now. The idea of the fraternity has many historical backgrounds, but there is a general consensus that the idea had at least some of its beginnings with the Masons Gould (1994) explains that Freemasonry has exercised a remarkable influence over all other oath -bound soc ieties for a long period (p. 2). The origin of freemasonry is debated; however, according to Gould they became more popular in the 1700s. About the year 1725 Freemasonry was beginning to be widely known, and about the year 1750 it had become thoroughly s o (Gould, 1994, p. 2). Fraternal and Greek lettered organizations as they are known today came to existence after Freemasonry became widely known. Fraternities also have historical roots before the Civil War. According to Chris Bullins (2005), men of the same viewpoint would get together in private meetings to discuss the potential of the war and what tactics needed to be made to make the war successful (C. Bullins, Course Lecture, 2005). The first social fraternity, as we understand the term today, is c onsidered to be the Kappa Alpha Society, established at Union College in Schenectady, New York on November 26, 1825 ( Kappa Alpha Society official website). It is also important to note that Phi Beta Kappa was the first Gr eek letter organization and the nations oldest and most widely known Academic Honor Society. It was founded on December 5, 1776. (Phi Beta Kappa official website). Sororities were started several years after the first Fraternities on college campuses. T he first sorority and secret society for women, Alpha Delta Pi was founded May 15, 1851 at Wesleyan Female College in Macon, Georgia (Alpha Delta Pi official website). The main reason that many sororities were founded was for the empowerment of women. Wom en were starting to


20 go to college at higher levels and found themselves in need of the same support systems that existed for the men. Origin of Latin Fraternities and Sororities As Latin Greek life is understood today Latin sororities and fraternities are very new, however, similar to the way secret organizations were formed during the pre Civil War, Latino secret societies and fraternities were formed many years prior to the current Latin fraternity and sorority system. Rodriguez (1995) explains the o rganizations that were formed prior to the Greek life system that is known today: Juan Rodriguez, a founder and vice president of the board of directors of Sigma Lambda Beta says that Latino fraternities actually existed in the late 1800s but their membe rs were elite and wealthy individuals from Latin America who attended prestigious U.S. universities. They formed secret societies, which evolved into alliances or loose knit fraternities of Latinos who shared the same social background. (p. 1) According to Rodriguez (1995), the majority of these organizations died out, but the one that remains today is Phi Iota Alpha. It was not until the 1970s and 1980s that the Latin Greek system that exists today began. Rodriguez (1995) details the origin of these o rganizations and why they were started when they were: In a general sense, Latinos did not form Greek letter fraternal organizations until the 1980s. Part of the reason is that, historically, there were no Latino colleges and, also due to de facto and d e jure segregation in K 12 education, very few Latinos attended all -white colleges. (p. 1) The first Latin sorority in the mainland of the United States Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. was founded in 1975 (Lambda Theta Alpha official website). It is also important to note that Eta Phi Zeta Latina sorority was established in Puerto Rico in 1969. The first Latin fraternity in existence is a contr oversial topic within the Latin Greek community because two organizations claim to be the first. Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc. claims to be the oldest Latino fraternity in the United States (Phi Iota official website, Baily 1949) Phi Iota Alpha claims that


21 they are the oldest Latino fraternity because the first Latino fraternity Sigma Iota later merged wi th Phi Lambda Alpha to form Phi Iota Alpha in 1931 (Phi Iota Alpha official website). Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. was founded in 1975 and claims to be the first recognized Latin fraternity because there were no Latin fraternities in existence in the United States (Lambda Theta Phi official website). One of the reasons behind this disparity in the Latin Greek culture is that Phi Iota Alpha was inactive for several years with no active chapters. Phi Iota Alpha (2005) explains this period of inac tivity on their website: By 1968, after many years of struggling to adapt to its time, the only active undergraduate chapter at RPI closed the doors of their chapter house. By 1976, the last active President graduated from RI, taking with him the Fraterni tys official documents and archives. From 1977 to 1983, the Fraternity witnessed a period of inactivity at the undergraduate level. (p. 1) This time period occurred at the beginning of the development of the Latin Greek system known today (including the founding of Lambda Theta Phi, Latin Fraternity, Inc. in 1975), and is a partial reason behind the two organizations claiming to be the oldest and/or the first. Reg ardless, the current movement of Latin s ororities and f raterniti es did not start until the 1 970s or even the 1980s, making one aspect clear: Latin Greek organizations were not established until many years after traditional sororities and fraternities were established. Most Latin fraternities and sororities are members of NALFO, the National Assoc iation of Latino Fraternal Organizations, which was founded in 1998. There are twenty-one organizations within NALFO, thirteen of which are sororities and eight of which are fraternities (NALFO official website). Although some of these organizations cate gorize themselves as Latin organizations, many of these organizations identify themselves as multicultural or even Latinobased multicultural. The NALFO (2008) website states its purpose: NALFO (National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations) is an umbrella council for Latino Greek Letter Organizations. The purpose of NALFO is to promote and foster positive interfraternal relations, communication, and development of all Latino Frat ernal


22 organizations through mutual respect, leadership, honesty, professionalism and education. (p. 1) The one main thing organizations within NALFO have in common is that they have a particular interest within the Hispanic -Latino Greek community. Anoth er important aspect to take note of is that not all Latin fraternities and sororities are in the NALFO council, although they usually strive to be. There are specific requirements that are needed to become a member of NALFO. One requirement that is neede d to be a member is a minimum number of chapters. If an organization is only active on four campuses for example, they do not meet the minimum of five active chapters to be a part of NALFO. In addition, the second chapter has to have been established for over five years. They do this to minimize the increase of the founding of organizations that only exist on one or two campuses. Regardless, it is important to note that more Latin fraternities and sororities exist that are not included in NALFO, but the y are usually rather small, regional organizations. Some of the bigger organizations in NALFO such as Sigma Lambda Beta and Chi Upsilon Sigma have as many as fifty ch apters around the United States (Sigma Lambda Beta and Chi Upsilon Sigma official website s). Latin fraternities and sororities are growing at extremely quick rates. Within a single semester, some of the bigger organizations will add up to eight chapters around the country. This in no way includes all of the chapters that are already in exis tence on college campuses and initiate new members on a semester basis. Within fifty years these organizations could easily double or even triple in membership and in number of chapters if they keep growing at their current rates Since these organizati ons can potentially increase significantly in number and in membership, it is can be expected that they will have a large influence on the Latin student experience in higher education. There is not a significant amount of scholarly work on Latin


23 Greek lif e, making this area of Latin college life an untapped resource for understanding how these organizations will influence the Latin community in college, as well as when they continue their lives as alumni. Because Latin sororities and fraternities are fairl y new and there is not as much research on these organizations as there is on the primarily Caucasian Greek organizations the majority of this literature review is based on more of the mainstream Greeks that exist on college campuses. Because gender dynam ics are the particular area being studied, sex segregated spaces as a whole can also be used as a helpful tool within a literature review. In this section, an overview of literature dealing with gender, fraternities and sororities, and sex -segregated spac es will be analyzed as a foundation for this study. Gender Studies w ithin Greek Life A very influential work in this area of gender studies is entitled Doing Gender by West and Zimmerman (1987). This article demonstrates the importance of examining gen der through the lens of organizations such as fraternities and sororities. When we view gender as an accomplishment, an achieved property of situated conduct, our attention shifts from matters internal to the individual and focuses on interactional and, ultimately, institutional arenas (West, 1987, p. 126). Gender is in fact an accomplishment. Fraternities and sororities, and in this case, more specifically, Latin sororities do gender. Since gender is taught in a societal setting, the gender role and attributes that are displayed within the Latin sorority setting are performed based on what members have learned is acceptable behavior for their sex. One of the first questions a researcher might ask in regards to this type of research project is: Wh y would someone join a fraternity or a sorority? Most women and men that join these organizations are aware on some level that these organizations are segregated by sex. What does this say (whether consciously or subconsciously) about the people that are even attracted to


24 Greek organizations, and how they view gen der? Handler (2005) states by joining a sorority, women engage, individually and collectively, in constructing themselves as women. Notions of womanhood are very much shaped and bound by the s ororitys needs and purpose and the sororitys relationship to Greek life and campus culture (p. 237). This understanding could be transferred to men as well. When men and women choose to be a part of a Greek organization they are willingly choosing to s eparate themselves into the binary gender structure of society even if it is not the primary reason for wanting to join. For the purpose of this study, the willingness to separate along the binary gender structure is not the only separation that exists. Within Latin Greek organizations, the majority of the members ethnically identify as Hispanic. Although the primary reason for joining may not be that the organization identifies as a Latin organization, they still willingly segregate themselves by joining an organization of primarily Hispanic people. In addition, Handler (2005) states that sororities are a strategy for dealing with the complexities of gender(ed) relations both among women and between women and men (p. 237). After joining a fraternity or sorority, the members are then molded into the dichotomous gender ideals of the organization. As Handler states, the organizations are a strategy for dealing with gender. Fraternities and sororities wind up influencing the way members view themselve s as well as others. DeSantis (2007) discovers in his research that Greek organizations reinforce traditional gender roles, and even pa triarchy: The elite organizations were GUs first tier Greek organizations. They were well established, influential, we althy, popular, and large and their members lived in a fraternity or sorority house They were also the most homogenous groups, composed of attractive, middle to upper -class, popular, white, Christian, heterosexual men and women who behaved in traditional ly masculine and feminine ways. (p. 12) Traditional gender roles and patriarchy are known by feminists to be the foundation for the oppression and inequality women face. By creating sex -segregated spaces, fraternities and


25 sororities emphasize difference a nd the binaries that many gender scholars work to break down. Spain (1993) states: In homes, schools, and workplaces, women and men are often separated in ways that sustain gender stratification by reducing womens access to socially valued knowledge. T he fact that these spatial arrangements may be impercept i ble increases their power to reproduce prevailing status differences (p. 137). Spain mentions one of the inherent problems that exist with Greek life. Fraternities and sororities have been shown b y scholars to reinforce traditional gender ideals ; however by simply segregating the organizations by sex they are already oppressing women by keeping them separate. The separation emphasizes difference and opens the door for oppression. For example, wome n are often praised when they take on a more feminine identity and wear dresses with pearls, are up to date with the fashion. Men are often praised for taking on masculine traits such as having athletic and strong bodies, and wearing clothes that emphasiz e these traits. In addition to dealing with the oppression that sex segregated spaces create; Latin women also deal with machismo in the Hispanic culture. Machismo can be described as the overtly chauvinistic and patriarchal views of gender that Hispanic men tend to have within the Latino culture. Gonzalez (1996) illuminates some of the differences in the Latino culture that influence and complicate machismo and states that they involve the domination of a strict Catholic upbringing, language barriers that keep many Latinos from being assertive about what they want, and the relative passivity of many Latino women (p. xv) Therefore, Latin women in sex segregated spaces, which include Latin sororities, can potentially be the recipients of different types of oppression because of the complications of their culture as well. In addition, the orientation processes of the organizations emphasize these differences. Hazing is a common practice in these organizations, especially in the fraternities. Often times, the degrading remarks that the pledges are told have to do with women, and n ot being like one.


26 Kimmel (2000) states his observations of a typical hazing incident that would happen to a fraternity pledge: There they are met by about 40 or 50 guys in unifor m who instantly start berating them, screaming, nose to nose, hollering what appear to be commands. The young men start with calisthenics -push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, running in place with their arms over their heads, squat thrusts whatever the uni formed men demand of them. While they huff and puff in the chilly predawn light, the uniformed cadre stands over them, belittling them, calling them skirs, wimps, wusses. (p. 494) These remarks reinforce the traditional gender ideals that emphasize women as being weak and sensitive, and men as being strong and powerful. It has been shown that sororities reinforce traditional gender ideals because there is often an emphasis on marriage and finding a suitable partner. In fact, this was generally con sidered a huge and main benefit of joining one. Fraternities do not have the same emphasis, reinforcing the fact that marriage is more important for women than it is for men because of the womans dependency on her husband for status in society. When dis cussing the importance of joining a sorority Scott (1965) states that stratum mobility through marriage is simply easier than stratum mobility for work (p. 519) Although this article was written many years ago, it still demonstrates the importance of m arriage in the sorority system. Marriage may not be as strong today as a motivator to join a sorority as it once was, but it still is considered an important social institution that dictates then what man a woman will have the opportunity to marry. The sororities are constantly in competition with one another for social status; and what dictates how high they fall on the food chain? The more fraternity members find a particular sororitys members attractive, the higher the social status that s orority is considered. Fraternities and sororities emphasize and reinforce the binaries of the female and male genders. What are some of the direct consequences of the reinforcement of the traditional gender roles?


27 Earlier it was stated that the traditional gender r oles that fraternities and sororities reinforce emphasize ideas such as the woman being the more submissive role and the men being the more dominant role. These ideas can be incorporated and transferred into the rape culture that exists on college campuse s. According to Boswell and Spade (1996) fraternities are dangerous places for women in terms of the potential for rape. The abusive attitudes toward women that some fraternities perpetuate exist within a general culture where rape is intertwined in tra ditional gender scripts. Men are viewed as initiators of sex and women as either passive partners or active resisters, preventing men from touching their bodies. Rape culture is based on the assumptions that men are aggressive and dominant whereas women are passive and acquiescent. What occurs on college campuses is an extension of the portrayal of domination and aggression of men over women that exemplifies the double standard of s exual behavior in U.S. society. (p. 134) Boswell and Spades article show that the double standards and binary system of looking at gender, not only hurt the status of the women in a general sense of power, but it also literally hurts women by transferring the idea of men being aggressive and dominant into higher numbers of rap e. Another direct consequence of the reinforcement of traditional gender roles is the sorority members access to power. As Spain spoke about in her article, she states that sex segregated spaces have been proven to keep women away from social power. These aspects of power are kept within the male segregated section, and therefore, women get excluded even though the idea is to keep the two sexes separate but equal. A main reason that ethnic and minority fraternities and sororities exist is that they have been traditionally oppressed groups within the academic arena. Latin fraternities and sororities are no different. The first Latin sorority, Lambda Theta Alpha was started with the intention of creating a support group for Latinas in higher educ ation. It was founded in 1975, which is the time that Hispanic enrollment on college campuses really blossomed. As suggested by Kimbrough (2002) and Castellanos and Jones (2003), the number of Latinos attending college


28 tripled betwe en 1976 and 1995. Schm idt (2003) estimate s that 1.5 million Latinos are now enrolled in higher education. Although this increase reflects growth, Latino students only encompass 6.6% of the total enrollment at four year institutions (Schmidt 2003). Latin Students in College Hisp anic -Latino Students were entering college more than ever before and had extremely high drop out rates. As defined by Castellanos and Jones (2003) persistence is the ability to remain in college, matriculate, and complete a degree. Unfortunately, only 6% of all Latino students enrolled in college earn an associate degree, while only 4% earn a bachelors degree (Castellanos & Jones 2003). Latinos are reported to be the least -educated major racial or ethnic group with only 11% of those over the age of 25 possessing a baccalaurea te degree (Schmidt 2003a). This was thought to be correlated with the fact that there were no supporting forces on college campuses. Hispanic Latino students were a minority and finding it difficult to transition into the everyday college life, and thus dropping out. Ga rcia (2005) states that as students enter the university, they are initially faced with the task of transitioning into a new environment, regardless of their academic goals or c lass level at the time of entry ( p. 1 ) Schlossberg (1981) suggested that each individual responds to transition differently, depending on personal characteristics and external factors present. Depending on the individuals response to transition, successful adaptation may or may not occur (Sch lossberg 1981). Unfortunately, successful adaptation to the collegiate atmosphere was not the experience of the majority of Hispanic Latino students. Ortiz (2004) suggested that Latino students may experience racism on campus because they are phenotypicall y different, often speak with an accent, and may be from a low socioeconomic background. Furthermore, she purported that students and administrators are oblivious to the overt and covert forms of racism that occur in residence halls, classrooms, and adviso rs offices (Ortiz 2004). Chilly campus racial climates


29 subject Latino students to alienation and increased experiences with powerlessness, normlessness, and social isolation (Gloria & Castellanos 2003). Garcia (2005) further explains the particular diffi culties of Latinas in the collegiate atmosphere: Upon entrance to the university, many Latina students are faced with new challenges as they find themselves negotiating their culturally prescribed gender roles and their new found independence (Gonzalez et al 2004; Olivas 1996 Orozco 2003). Additionally, many Latina students struggle because they lack role models on campus (Mina et al. 2004, Ortiz 2004). As reported by Dolan (2004), there is a lack of women in tenure and tenure track faculty positions and even fewer women of color in these positions. Gonzalez et al. proposed that Latinas experience college in a unique way, suggesting that they struggle with the ambivalence of maintaining cultural values and familial commitments while searching for individua lity and independence in an unfamiliar, predominantly White academic world. This unique experience explicates the need for continual research on this growing population of college students in order to better understand their unique experience (p. 5) Summary The unique expe riences of Latin students in predominantly white colleges and universities are in need of further exploration. A significant amount of studies have been done, but in order to understand the experiences of Latin students studies such as this one need to be done. Furthermore, since Latin fraternities and sororities have become a popular involvement opportunity for Latino students, it is important to understand the influences these organizations have on its members so that the Latino exper ience in higher education can be fully understood.


30 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Methodological Approach The two major areas that a scholar can choose a methodology from are quantitative research and qualitative research. A research project involving gender and Greek life falls primarily into the area of sociology because it deals with how these organizations socially construct gender. It also falls into the area of feminist research because it analyzes gender with the eventual purpose of helping to eliminate some of the forms of inequality that may exist. For the purpose this study, a qualitative research method will be used. It gives a more detailed understanding of the culture and lifestyle of the Greek organizations. Corbin and Strauss (2008) describe some of the reasons for using qualitative research as a method for research projects: Why do qualitati ve research? The most frequently given, and probably the most accurate, response to this question is that the research question should dictate the methodological approach that is used to conduct the research. Other reasons given include: qualitative rese arch allows researchers to get at the inner experience of participants, to determine how meanings are formed through and in culture, and to discover rather than test variables. (p.12) I have chosen to take a qualitative approach to better understand the inner workings of Latin sororities and their mem bers experiences within them. Although this study will be using a qualitative approach, many scholars are increasingly using both quantitative and qualitative approaches for their research. A future study on gender and Latin sororities could potentially use both approaches. After much thought and consideration I came to the conclusion that the best approach to this study would be a multi -method approach. This study encompasses an ethnographic style with indi vidual interviews and a focus group. The interviews bring in the diverse opinions of a variety of sorority members giving validity to the research. Reinharz (1992) states why many researchers use interviewing as a research method: Interviewing offers re searchers access to


31 peoples ideas, thoughts, and memories in their own words rather than in the words of the researcher (p. 19) The interviewing method I used involved three basic steps. The first two steps took place within the individual interview with the first part focusing on the ethnicity and background of the participants and the second part focusing on the research questio ns of the project. The third and final step was the focus group session that incorporated all the participants from the individual interviews. In addition to interviewing, I will be using ethnography as a method. Ethnography is a form of multi -method re search. Reinharz (1992) states It usually includes observation, participation, archival analysis, and interviewing, thus combing the assets and weaknesses of each method. (p. 46) The main aspect of ethnography that adds to the interviewing method is the observation aspect. I will include my observations of the groups dynamics. Reinharz discusses the benefits of closeness in fieldwork by stating that Feminist ethnographers who emphasize closeness rather than distance in fieldwork relations believe tha t understanding based on participant observation is enhanced by total immersion in the world one is studying. (p. 69) As a Latin sorority member myself, I can attest to the fact that I am completely aware of the Latin Greek culture that exists on college campuses. In the study of gender dynamics within Latin sororities, the combination of interviewing for a diverse array of o pinions as well as the observational aspect of ethnography give the strongest and richest opportunity for a true depiction of how gender roles and ideologies are created within the Latin Greek life system. Since I am a member of a Latin sorority, and am of the same national Latin Sorority, Phi Delta, I must acknowledge my insider status in this research study. Griffith s (1998) expla ins the perspective of the insider in scholarly work:


32 Where the researcher enters the research site as an Insider someone whose biography (gender, race, class, sexual orientation and so on) gives her a lived familiarity with the group being researched that tacit knowledge informs her research producing a different knowledge than that available to the Outsider a researcher who does not have an intimate knowledge of the group being researched prior to their entry into the group. (p. 361) Insider/Outsider Status I am an insider in this study on numerous levels. First I am a Latina, and although not all of the research study participants identify as Latina, they are all members of a Latin sorority and have a deep relationship with the Latin culture. T he one participant that does not identify as Latina described having a very close relationship with t he Latin culture. Second I am a member of a Latin sorority as well and this association gives the participants a certain amount of familiarity and comfor t with me as the researcher. Finally, the biggest insider relationship that I have with the participants is that I am a member of the same national organization. While this could be considered problematic, it actually helped with getting more in depth re sponses. The trust that came with the comfort level of being in the same national organization gave the participants the freedom and desire to engage fully in the individual interviews and focus group. Changes in Study The initial idea for this study wa s to incorporate both a Latin fraternity and a Latin sorority in the findings. In order to have an overall understanding of gender expectations and gender identity development within the Latin Greek culture, both Latin fraternities and sororities ideally should be researched. The study ended up only focusing on a Latin sorority because of time restraints and the nature of the study. Incorporating individual interviews and focus groups for each individual organization would provide enough data for a disse rtation. For future study in gender identity development, I recommend incorporating both Latin fraternities and sororities in the findings. I elaborate on this more in the final chapter, Recommendations and Personal Reflections.


33 Summary In this study I will be using individual interviews, a focus group with all five members of the individual interviews, and my own observations of both of these. I have chosen to include the focus group in addition to the individual interviews so that I can not only analyze the responses I receive on an individual basis, but I can also analyze the responses I am given when the participants are involved in the group context. Their answers will be a point of examination, but so will the difference in behavior and responses between the individual interviews and the focus group. This is key so that I can then analyze how the group dynamic influences members participation in the study.


34 CHAPTER 4 PARTICIPANT PROFILES This chapter will focus on the participants and their backgrounds. In order to understand the perceptions of the participants it is important to understand the foundation from which they come from. This section gives an overview of the participants lives by providing information such as their ethnic identity, i nformation about their upbringing, the education level of their parents, and finally the reasoning for joining their Latin sorority. This chapter serves as a way to preliminarily get to know the participants. Alternative names will be used for the partic ipants in order to maintain confidentiality. Please see the table below (Table 4.1) for a basic overview of all of the participants. Table 4 1. Study Participants Pseudonym Location where born Time lived in U.S. Self identity Religious affiliation Class year Katie Venezuela 16 years Venezuelan Roman Catholic, but does not actively practice Junior Nicole New York Born in U.S. Cuban Ecuadorian Roman Catholic, but does not actively practice Senior Rose Canada 12 years Peruvian Roman Catholic Senior Daisy South Florida Born in U.S. Pakistani Bangladesh Muslim Junior Jackie South Florida Born in U.S. Cuban Guatemalan Seventh Day Adventist Junior Katie Participant 1, who will go by the pseudonym of Katie for the purposes of this study, is a 20 year old that was born in Venezuela. Her entire family is from Venezuela. She moved to the United States when she was four and lived in a s outh Florida city until she moved to go to college. She grew up in a primarily w hite middle -class neighborhood and the high school she attended was described as racially diverse. Her primary involvemen t in high school was band.


35 In terms of sexuality she identifies as heterosexual. Her religious affiliation is Chris tian but she specifies that she is distant from her religious background, which is Catholic. Both of her parents have bachelors d egrees. The main influence for going to college in her life is her older sister. She describes University College as being fun and fast paced. Outside of her sorority she is involved with the Hispanic Student Association on her campus. She has been a member of her sorority for about two years and states that her reasoning for joining was the comfort and approachability she f elt from the current sisters. Nicole Participant 2 who will go by the pseudonym of Nicole for the purposes of this study, is a 21 year old that was born in New York. She grew up in south Florida, and moved a couple of times within the south Florida region. She moved from New York to south Florida a month after she was born. Her father was born in south Florida but is of Cuban descent and her mother was born in Ecuador. She identifies herself to be half Cubanhalf Ecuadorian. She describes the communi ties that she grew up in as Hispanic for the most part. She moved several times as a child and each move was one based on improvements in socio -economic status and crime rates. She went to two high schools and describes the first as predominantly Caucasi an, and the second as having significantly more Hispanics, and having more diversity. She mentions that she felt significantly more comfortable in the second high school than the first. Her high school involvement included Key Club, Student Government, a nd Best Buddies. In terms of sexuality she identifies as heterosexual. She identifies as Catholic although she does not actively practice her religion. She states that the major influence in going to college in her life was her own determination in addi tion to a feeling of living up to her mothers dreams. Neither of her parents graduated from college. Her mother attended some college but did not graduate and her father did not graduate from high school. She describes University College as a place whe re she


36 initially felt completely out of place, but because of her decision to get involved her sophomore year she was able to branch out and find her niche. She has been a member of her sorority for a little less than a year and states that her reasoning for joining is having an association with strong, independent like herself. Rose Participant 3 who will go by the pseudonym of Rose for the purposes of this study, is a 21 year old born that was born in Canada. Her entire family is Peruvian. She lived f o r 9 years in Canada and then moved to south Florida where she lived until she came to college. She describes Canada as being a low -middle class area that had a significant amount of townhouses. She describes the south Florida city she grew up in as an a rea that contained people with a higher income. She also states that Canada had a significant amount of Chinese, Indian, and Sou th Asian people. The south Florida city had more of a mix of Cau ca sian, Hispanic, and Black people She describes her high sc hool as being racially diverse and in an impoverished area There were a significant amount of students that had come straight from Guatemala and Cuba. Participant 3 however, was in a magnet program so the school not only was diverse in terms of race, eth nicity, and socio -economic status, but it was also diverse in terms of education levels. She was involved in a pre -med club and theatre in high school. In terms of sexuality she identifies as heterosexual and in terms of religion she identifies as Roman Catholic. She states that the major influence in her life leading her to college was her own determination to become a doctor. Her parents helped her along the way but they did not know a significant amount about th e college system. Her father ha s a b ac helors degree and her mother is currently working towards getting her b achelors degree. She describes University College as a fun environment. She has been a member of her sorority for a little less than two years and states that her


37 reasoning or joini ng was the relationships the sisters seemed to have with another in addition to the fact that the sorority put an emphasis on academics. Daisy Participant 4, who will go by the pseudonym of Daisy for the purposes of this study, is a 20 year old born in sou th Florida Her father was born in Pakistan her mother was born in Bangladesh. Her mothers side of the family is from India and her fathers side of the family is from Pakistan. She grew up in a south Florida city. Her father received his bachelors degree and her mother did not finish college. She describes the south Florida city she grew up in as being somewhat rural. The area she grew up in has a significant amount of land and open space. She describes her high school as being predomin antly Caucasian with occasional Hispanics, and very few Blacks. She was very involved in high school and some of the organizations she was involved with included the Math club, Student Government, the National Honor Society, the Spanish Club, Varsity tennis, etc. In terms of her sexuality she defines herself as open and not pertaining to a specific ca tegory yet. She identifies her self as a specific sect in the Muslim religion. The major influence in her going to college was her parents. It was understood from a very young age that she was going to college. She describes University College as being very diverse but with very specific niches. The niche that she has gotten involved with, which is the Hispanic community, has consumed her lifestyle on the c ollege level. She has been a member of her sorority for a little less than a year and her reasoning for joining was the close bond the sisters appeared to have with one another as well as the balance sisters appeared to have in terms of their professional and school life. Jackie Participant 5, who will go by the name of Jackie for the purposes of this study, is a 20 year old born in south Florida Her fathers side of the family is from Cuba and her mothers


38 side of the family is from Guatemala. S he grew up in the inner city. Her mothers highest level of education is high school and her fathers highest level of education is a m asters degree. She describes the area she grew up in as being very poor, and as being one of the few Hispanics in an African -American community. She describes her high school as being a typical inner city high school, one with few expectations but a variety of good programs. She was involved in several student organizations such as HOSA, the Health Occupation Students of Ameri ca, and Payback, a fine arts magnet. In terms of her sexuality she defines herself as heterosexual. She also identifies as Seventh Day Adventist. The major influence in her going to college was her father and her older sister. She describes University College as very friendly, especially in comparison to the community in which she grew up. She has been a member of the sorority for a little less than a year and her reasoning for joining was to find a place where she could truly find herself and embrace her culture. Summary Although all of the participants are from the same sorority, they are relatively diverse in their backgrounds. Katie is the only participant that is a first generation Hispanic. She was born in Venezuela. The rest of the participa nts are mainly second generation Hispanics. The exception is Daisy because her father is from Pakistan and her mother is from Bangladesh. The majority of the participants grew up in middle class/socioeconomic households and communities. Jackie is the on ly one that describes the neighborhood that she grew up in as very poor. Four out of the five participants identify with some form of Christian religion. Katie, Nicole, and Rose describe themselves as Roman Catholic, but Rose is the only participant that actively practices the religion. Jackie and Daisy are the exceptions. Jackie identifies as Seventh Day Adventist, which is a Christian denomination. Daisy identifies as Muslim. In terms of sexuality, four out of the five participants identify as heter osexual. Daisy is the only member that identifies as open


39 and not belonging to a particular sexual orientation. With the exception of Nicole, all of the participants described University College as an exciting and upbeat campus, and even Nicole eventuall y said she was able to join the campus once she found her niche. Almost all of the participants described the university as being very big and therefore stressed finding a niche as an important part of survival. All of the participants are fairly new in the organization. At the time of the interviews, Katie and Rose had been members for almost two years and Nicole, Daisy, and Jackie had been members for almost one year. The background of the participants is very important to note because it serves as a foundation for their beliefs, values and morals. Before entering the sorority, there were influences in their lives that formed their perceptions of gender. This study serves to find out the gender expectations within the sorority and how those expectati ons influence the members themselves, but it is important to note that there are other factors involved in formulating the participants views on gender.


40 CHAPTER 5 ANALYSIS Gender is performed on a daily basis in peoples lives all over the world. The Latin Greek lifestyle is no different. In this chapter, I will analyze the responses from the individual interviews and use them to illustrate the themes that arise in the study. I will also use the Focus Group responses to illustrate those themes a s well as to analyze the differences and similarities in responses from the individual interviews to the focus group interview in the group setting. These observations are important because they display the impact the group environment has on the individu als responses and comfort levels. Understanding of Gender As a feminist scholar studying gender, and having read an extensive amount of literature I found it important to first get an understanding of what the participants knew about gender. I knew they might have different exposure levels with gender and wanted to get an understanding of their levels before asking them in depth questions about gender and the lifestyle of the sorority. After completing the individual interviews it was easy to see that there were two overall understandings of gender. The first overall understanding of gender was a basic one, and did not have much of a differentiation in description from sex. Roses response to the question of the definition of gender was as follows: Gender is used to describe either a boy or a girl. Gender is either a male or female. On the other hand, Daisys response to the same question was as follows: Gender is how you see yourself, if you see yourself more masculine or more feminine. As opposed to how you are according to how you are born. My sex is a female but in terms of gender, I could see myself more masculine than feminine. Thats just the way I look at it. I guess gender is the way you see yourself and then based on what you are seen as


41 Both Rose and Daisy have varying viewpoints and exposure levels to gender. Three of the participants saw gender as a biological category for men and women and two of the participants saw gender as a chosen identity versus the biological sex a person is born with. Gender Roles In the individual interviews I asked two questions dealing directly with gender roles. The first question asked the participants if they perceived any gender roles as being associated with a man or a woman. I then followed up that question asking the participants if they perceived any gender roles as being associated with a man or a woman within the Hispanic culture. Going into the interviews I realized that the interpretation to these questions could be taken two different ways. The first interpretation I saw arising was whether or not society perceives men and women having specific gender roles The second interpretation I saw arising was whether or not they as individuals perceive men and women having specific gender roles. Ni cole perceived the question from the standpoint of society and the gender roles they place on men and women. T his is what she said in response to the overall question about gender roles. Yes. Men are thought to be very masculine and have a stern patriarch al personality, theyre the head, raised to think that they are the ones that are in charge, the head. Women are taught to be more of caretakers as opposed to men, which is why it becomes a shocker when women come out of the wanting to be a caretaker and decide to be a lawyer because they are not expected to do so. Men are expected to lead the way. Nicoles response to the follow up question on the perceived gender ro les in the Latino community was as follows: Yes. I think its harder for that successf ul woman to come out of the Latina woman My mom for example, her mother raised her to be a good wife. Over time this has changed because my mother raised me telling me that I had to go to college. There is a sense of changing over time but theres still that idea that you have to be a housewife, cook, clean, and mean are taught that women have to serve them in the Hispanic community. Nicole thinks that there are definitely gender roles set out in society. To remain within context for this study, wheneve r the word society is used, it can be thought as American society. She


42 thinks that men have more of a dominant figure in society and women have more of a submissive one. Nicole also states that she thinks it is harder for a Latina woman to be that succe ssful woman. By successful it can be understood that she is meaning successful in terms of career. There is more of an expectation for the woman in the Latin culture to be submissive and not career oriented. This differentiation that she believes exists between the overall American community and Latino community is an important one, but not necessarily agreed upon by all the participants. On the other hand, Jackie described some of the same perceived gender roles in American society; however, she does n ot perceive much of a difference between the overall gender roles of men and women and those that exist within the Latino community. When asked about gender roles in the Latin community Jackie stated: I think its the same. With men, you have to have your ego way up high, you have to dominate the woman. Despite this statement, Jackie then goes on to say that Non -heterosexual ity in the Latin community is looked down upon even more. Therefore, although she states that the gender roles that exist overal l in American society and then more specifically in the Latino community are the same, the fact that non -heterosexual ity is looked down upon more in the Latino community shows that there is a difference in gender expectations because sexualit y and gender g o hand in hand. Rose interpreted the questions on gender roles from the second interpretation I expected. When she answered the original question about overall gender roles she stated: No. I think a man or woman can do whatever they want. She then goes on to differentiate herself from society and states: Society has a different opinion of me. Therefore, Rose shows that her personal beliefs about gender roles contrast with the overarching gender roles created by society. When asked about gender ro les in the Latino community she states: Society thinks Latino men


43 are more dominant. Latina women are supposed to be at home, take care of the kids, be more submissive. The over all viewpoint of the participants was that there are some differences in te rms of the gender role expectations as a whole in the society they live in compared to the Latino community. The Latino community was usually said to have men that were expected to be more macho and women that were expected to be more submissive. College Influences In terms of trying to determine how Latin sorority membership influences members viewpoints on gender, it is important to understand how the college experience as a whole influences members views on gender. When Jackie was asked whether or no t her perception of gender has changed since attending college she stated: I definitely think that women can be whatever they want to be. After taking the Sociology class I learned that if a man wants to be a woman he can and if a wom a n wants to be a man she can. Therefore, Jackies experience shows the very real ability for classes to influence students views on gender. Katies viewpoint in terms of college influencing her views on gender is a bit different: College didnt change my viewpoints on gender it just brought gender more to my attention. It made me think about my moms role as well as my sisters and I. My mom did a lot and sacrificed a lot. She moved everything and started from scratch. Even in high school I didnt realize it. It wasnt until I got to college that I thought about it. My moms sacrifice wound up being good for my sisters and I. Women can be strong and universal while still maintaining household roles. Her viewpoint captures the overall consensus of participants. Although some participants were able to articulate some changes in gender viewpoints, they were all conscious that they had become more aware of gender and gender issues in college.


44 Gender Expectations in the Sorority The question on gender identity within the individual interviews was the most informative about how gender is done in a Latin sorority. When asked how gender identity is defined within Phi Delta Katie responded: There are a lot of expectations. The career -oriented paths are a lot more looked well upon than getting married and having a house, for example. More value is placed on career. You are expected to be a leader. You are expected to be independent. Sisters are put in the position where they feel like they have to go out and take on leader ship positions. It is good because it pushes other sisters that may not have thought about leadership to get involved but its bad because it pushes other sisters that may not want to take on leadership roles to take on leadership roles. Katie explained th at the culture in the Latin sorority is to promote leadership and be independent, but this is not necessarily the best option for all of the members. Jackie had a similar response: Phi Delta views women of all color, races, and sexual orientation as stron g and potential leaders if they work hard. Because we are in a sorority it means we have an ongoing education, which means we should have the same opportunities that a man would. But sometimes stereotypes are okay. They dont have to be demeaning unless you want them to be. Jackie never said that promoting equality and leadership is a bad thing, but she does mention that the female stereotypes are not necessarily bad, once again showing the need for an alternative culture for the independent one that dom inates. Nicoles response also touched on some of the same themes: Phi Delta has the whole concept of the universal woman. She is a very knowledgeable woman. She makes sure that she gets an education in any way, whether its politics or geography. Shes independent and strong. Overall gender identity in Phi Delta can be descri b ed as strong, independent, and career -driven. She can also be giving loving, and nurturing. The participants made it very clear in their responses that the Latin sorority is abou t the empowerment of women. They used words such as strong and independent to define gender identity in the sorority. All of the participants also mentioned feminine traits or alternative


45 gender traits in their responses to describe what is not necessari ly promoted within the organization, but is also important. Traditions and Activities One of the questions that was asked within the individual interviews dealt with the traditions and activities the sorority takes part in. Participants were asked to think about the traditions and activities they take part in that have the most impact on gender and how gender is perceived. Their responses illuminated areas of the sorority culture that have influences on gender that were not mentioned previously. Here i s Roses response: A lot of things that we do people would say only boys do that. For example, marching and addressing. (Addressing is a pseudonym for the name of the activity, and is being used for the sake of confidentiality.) We made it our tradition too. Women can do it too and do it well. Rose sheds light on the marching and addressing traditions that exist within the Latin Greek culture. These traditions are usually very militant in style and are the main activities disp layed during shows or productions for the surrounding college community. Rose makes it a point to mention that people would say that those traditions are only for males, and in this case fraternities, but the Latin sororities take part in them as we ll, and they do a great job. Katies response mentions the marching and addressing aspects in a similar light, but also communicates that the sorority takes part in girly things too: Addressing, because it brings out the strong and independent ideals. Other thi ngs we do are still kind of girly and still maintain traditional gender stereotypes. The sorority wants to push the bounds a little more. Society does not view women as being independent. Latin society views women as a little more independent. Addressi ng brings out more of the strong aspect. Although Katie does mention any specific traditions or activities that consist of what she would consider more feminine gender roles, she does state that the sorority does partake in traditions and activities outsid e of saluting that are not focused around the strong and independent roles


46 saluting tend s to promote. She does mention however, that the tradition that the sorority takes part in that most influences how gender is perceived is addressing and this perpetuates the strong, independent, gender ideal. When Jackie answered this question, she immediately thought of addressing as a main tradition that portrays gender as well, but she ill uminated a different aspect of addressing that the other participants did not: Addressing. Addressing gives a voice. I feel like when Phi Delta was first starting they had addressing so that people would pay attention to them. One woman maybe doesnt seem like shes doing a change but if you get a group of women to do the same thing, to speak about something they believe in, people will listen. Jackie responded that addressing has to do with gender because of the voice it gives to women so that they can commun icate a message. She sees it a s an empowerment tool. While other pa rticipants focused on the way in which addressing is conveyed, Jackie focuses on the fact that it is an effective and empowering communication tool. The overall responses to the question on gender and traditions and activities the sorority takes part in had to do with addressing and/or marching. This shows that addressing and marching are the major traditions that portray some sort of gender influence on the sorority. All of the responses stated that addressing had to do with empowerment, but it was unde rstood that the gender roles portrayed when addressing or marching are typically considered masculine gender roles. Sexuality Issues Since sexuality and gender are interconnected a few of the questions the participants were asked dealt with the climate i n the sorority in terms of sexuality issues and potential non heterosexual members. In ord er to maintain clarity, the wor d nonheterosexual is used as a n overarching term for the LGBT community, which consists of the Lesbi an, Gay, Bisexual,


47 Transgender, a nd other non-heterosexual communities. Daisys response to the questions on sexuality issues was: People are there to support each other in the organization and theres people youre close to that you can talk to about it but in general its more like you do your own thing. Its like a dont ask dont tell kind of thing. The sorority is welcoming towards the non heterosexual community, but not all of the members are welcoming. The sorority in general, and the way they want to be perceived is welcoming, but not all members are welcoming. So members that are non -heterosexual are not going to wind up being open about it. Daisys response demonstrates that the sororitys ideals with sexuality do not match up with the realistic viewpoints of all its members. The culture that Daisy describes within the sorority is one that is not openly welcoming to all sexuality types and c an therefore cause members to not be open about their sexuality. Katies response to the sorority culture in terms of sexuality was somewhat similar: It s not something that gets brought up or talked about. We keep that to whomever it pertains to. The overall climate is dont ask dont tell. Its not welcoming, but not completely open. Katies response once again mentions the lack of openness to sexuality types that are different from the heterosexual norm. It is also understood that non -heterosexual members exist within the organization, but their sexuality is kept somewhat secret and private. Nicole describes some of the same privacy attributes in terms of sexuality that the other participants mention, but she also discusses why this would be the c ase: Recently weve had more lesbian members, and I think because of the appearance of the sorority they try to keep that under wraps. So they try not to really discuss those types of issues. I think for the sake of the organization they dont want to be categorized as the lesbian sorority. Not everyone agrees on everything. I know that the intention to be accepting or embracing to those who are lesbian has not been a problem. F or the most part we embrace them. Nicole not only mentions that there is a certain amount of secrecy and silence in terms of sexuality, but she also mentions that one of the main reasons behind this is so that the


48 organization does not begin to be construed as a lesbian sorority. Overall, all of the participants mentioned in one way or another that sexualities outside of the heterosexual norm are not entirely accepted and definitely not openly discussed. Latin Greek Community as a Whole Since this study consisted of five participants from the same Latin sorority interview questions were asked in order to get an understanding of the Latin Greek culture as a whole and how it views and portrays gender. Participants were asked to think outside of their own sorority and about the Latin Gr eek community as a whole in terms of gender. Pseudonyms will be used for other organizations that are mentioned in these responses. Here is what Katie had to say: It portrays gender by what organization youre in. Every organization has its stereotype. Phi Delta sorority members are seen as strong. Chi Beta fraternity members are seen as hard. Kappa Mu fraternity members are seen as weaker, less manly. They dont try to be over manly. Rho Epsilon sorority is seen as more girly, more feminine. The L atino community and Latino Greek community in terms of gender roles and stereotypes match, but not perfectly. The Lati no Greek community perpetuates L atino gender roles. They highlight them. Instead of breaking down the Latin sororities and fraternities as a whole, according to Katie, the gender roles and stereotypes are broken down by organization. Although she states that there is a difference between the stereotypical Latin community gender roles and the stereotypical Latin Greek community gender role s, there is an overall perpetuation of Latino gender roles. Rose had a completely different interpretation of how the Latin Greek community deals with gender: Sororities try to make themselves stick out and be the best of the best. Fraternities support u s and usually see eye to eye. Some fraternity members dont see eye to eye. There are no perpetuations of gender stereotypes. Unlike Katie, Rose does not think that there are overarching perpetuations of gender stereotypes. Similar to Katie however, she noted that the organizations do not all have the same ideals. Therefore, the organizations have their own individual cultures and expectations but there is not an overarching stereotypical gender perpetuation within the Latin Greek community. Jackie


49 doe s not mention the individual cultures in her response and gives her perceptions of the Latin Greek community based on what she has seen from the sororities as a whole and the fraternities as a whole: I think that Latin sororities feel that women should be empowered and break free from the stereotypical woman working at home, cooking for the man. I cant say the same for Latin fraternities. Members of other Latin fraternities feel that they have to be like machista Thats what they have to be. Unlike the other participants, Jackie divides the gender culture and expectations up by the overall fraternities and sororities. She mentions that within the Latin Greek culture, sororities focus on the empowerment of women, (which she states earlier in her intervi ew consist of traditionally male gender roles) and that fraternities focus on being portrayed as manly, machista or strong. Despite, Roses statement that no gender perpetuations exist within the La tin Greek culture, the rest of the participants acknowle dged that there was some perpetuation of traditional Latin gender roles; however, it is not always the case. Focus Group In the case of this study, the focus group gave a bit more insight and reflection into the questions. All five individual interview pa rticipants were there. The atmosphere from the individual interviews to the focus group changed from somewhat serious to very playful. As I stated previously in the methodology section, the insider status helped with the trusting aspect of the research p rocess. The participants were very open with me from the beginning and this was the same in the focus group session. Since all participants are from the same organization they trusted each other, and my insider status contributed to that comfort level. The main difference between the individual interview sessions and focus group session was the influence the participants had on each other. Because new ideas were being mentioned, participants were able to think of answers to questions they had not though t of in the individual interview sessions. In a


50 few instances there was a snowball influence in their responses meaning that one participants response caused another participant to respond in a similar fashion, and so on and so forth. They would often t imes agree with each others answers and then elaborate more on the topic. One of the areas where there was more of an elaboration within the focus group is the section on college influences. Participants were asked to mention what college experiences had a significant influence on their views and perceptions of gender. Within the individual interviews they stated that the main impact college had on them in terms of their views on gender was that it made them more aware of gender issues. Jackie mentioned that a sociology class she had taken had made her more aware. In the focus group a few more things were mentioned. This is Daisys response: One of my influences in terms of gender is the sorority and another is going to SPD meetings. (SPD is the LGBT or ganization on campus. This is a pseudonym and not the actual acronym for the organization.) Its really informational. People tell you their backgrounds. So you have more knowledge about different genders and it makes you question what you identify wit h. Daisy mentions two major college influences in terms of her perceptions of gender that had not been mentioned previously. She lists the sorority as having a major influence on her perceptions of gender as well as the organization, SPD. In the snowball fashion, Rose agrees and elaborates a bit more: The same for me. Whenever the question of gender comes up, I think of SPD. They always have discussions on gender, and Ill think to myself oh, Ive never thought about that. After Rose concurs with Dais y about SPD, Daisy then elaborates on how the sorority has influenced her in terms of gender: Especially with the business aspect of the sorority, you want to have put the emotions away. You want to think very logical and with that male stereotypical gend er role. You want to be straightforward and thats how people perceive men as. Since women are always seen as thinking with their emotions, when it comes to business you dont want to think like that.


51 In this section, Rose and Daisy mention the sorority and the organization SPD as having major influences on them in terms of gender. Daisy states that in the business sector of the sorority, she has been taught to take on a straightforward, non -emotional stance, which could also be considered stereotypical male gender roles. She also states that SPD had an influence on her because it made her question what she identifies with in terms of gender. Rose agrees and mentions that SPD made her think about things she had never thought about before in terms of gen der. The next section within the focus group that illuminates a theme not mentioned in the individual interviews is the section focusing on how membership in Phi Delta has changed the participants views of gender. When answering a question on the differ ence between the participant and the organization as a whole Katie responded: I think the similarities between me as Katie and Phi Delta become kind of blurred because subconsciously once you start the process, youre kind of guided and pushed, and I dont want to say brainwashed, but kind of brainwashed to become a certain way. Youre not actively changing your personality but subconsciously you kind of are. Youre taught to be aggressive, and not to put up with any bs. You really dont start out tha t way but you slowly assimilate into what that is. No one is forcing you, but since youre around it so much, you slowly start to assimilate. Katie mentions her identity is somewhat blurred with the identity of Phi Delta because of the teachings that star t with the new member orientation process. She states that a member does not start out as aggressive, but they eventually assimilate into being aggressive because they are surrounded by members that are. Daisy elaborates on how the sorority influences me mbers gender identity somewhat differently. She states that the influences the organization has on members varies in different contexts: Once youre a sister you take on your duties, and those duties could be considered masculine or feminine. Its not considered masculine or feminine within the organization because were all women. In the chapter aspect, Phi Delta erases the need for gender roles. Outside of chapter though, youre still going to take on a heteronormative gender role. Youre not going t o be open unless you feel like you belong to the same gender roles as


52 everyone else because you want to blend in with everyone else. So, within chapter its kind of blurred. Outside chapter, youre expected to act in this heteronormative role, both gend er and sexuality wise. Daisy mentions that the influence that Phi Delta has on its members varies within contexts. She explains that within the business roles the organization teaches members to take on the tasks that need to get done without giving any more importance to the tasks that are more masculine or more feminine. Within the business role, gender roles get blurred; however, she also states that once members are out of the business setting, they go back to a heteronormative way of being where the y take on more stereotypically feminine attributes. Summary of Key Themes These findings demonstrate that although all participants did not have an extensive background in gender issues, college brought these issues to the forefront. Within the college s ystem, the Latin sorority strives to promote the empowerment of women, but is not necessarily empowering to all of the women who join. The participants described the sorority as promoting gender identity ideals that they described previously in the interv iews as being stereotypically male gender roles. Participants describe stereotypically male gender roles as being career driven, independent, and outspoken. Members that already fit these roles are looked well upon within the sorority, but those that do not necessarily want to fit their lifestyles to those roles are said to often times feel pressured into taking on those roles. In addition, although participants described the sorority as having a favorable stance with sisters that take on more traditiona l masculine gender roles, there was a heteronormative stance in terms of sexuality. Participants described the sorority as not being very welcoming with the non -heterosexual community. Individuals within the organization may have varying sexual orientat ions, but it is not discussed in an open format. Any sexuality outside of heterosexual is for the most kept quiet and not discussed. An empowering organization for all members is one that empowers all women, and


53 although the Latin sorority culture attempts to do this, it has a tendency to lean toward a culture that promotes women that take on male societal traits with a heteronormative sexual orientation. In comparison to the individual interviews, the focus group responses dealing with how Phi Delta inf luences members views on gender and gender identity development focused less on the empowerment of women. It was understood from the responses that for the most part members are taught to take on stereotypically male gender roles. The only time during t he focus groups when this was not the case was when it was mentioned that the gender roles were blurred and said to be unimportant within a specific context.


54 CHAPTER 6 RECOMMENDATIONS AND PERSONAL REFLECTIONS Recommendations for Future Study Acknowle dging that this is an initial study, I would like to set forth my recommendations for future study on the topic of gender and Latin Greek life. First and foremost, this study stands as the tip of a very large iceberg in terms of representing the Latin Gre ek culture as a whole. Since only one Latin sorority was represented in this study, I would recommend that a future study include members of various different Latin sororities. This is important because every individual organization has its own subcultur e and it is important to pick up on those nuances to get a full understanding of the Latin Greek culture as a whole. Limitations of the Study In addition, a future study that would include participation from both Latin fraternities and Latin sororities would be ideal. In order to get a full understanding of how gender is done in the Latin Greek culture it is important to know how both fraternities and sororities portray gender as well as their gender expectations. Another interesting set of dynamics th at I was not able to capture in this study is the interactions between the Latin fraternities and sororities. As a member of a Latin sorority, I have been witness to the dynamics of brother -sister relationships within organizations as well as the romantic elements that go into dating members of the opposite sex in a Latin fraternity within the Latin Greek culture. The individual organizations have their own gender expectations and portray gender in their own separate ways, but it is also important to ackn owledge the influences the organizations have on each other. The desire to appear attractive to members of other organizations is present (whether consciously or subconsciously) and should be examined further. In addition, the dichotomous nature of the


55 b rother -sister relationships within these organizations should also be examined for their potential influence. As a feminist scholar that has done an extensive literature review in the area of gender, I found the discussions about gender to be a bit frustr ating. I define gender as a fluid, non-binary form of identification. Since I have taken the time to study gender significantly, it was a bit of a shock to step out of my bubble and see the lack of serious attention that has been given to gender studies. I think the topic of gender is very important, especially for the progression toward the equality of women and men; hence, why I am taking the time to do a research project on the topic. Regardless, how can there ever be an expectation of equality if topics like gender versus sex and sociological perspectives versus biological perspectives are not brought to the forefront and discussed? It is important that everyone have at least a basic understanding of gender from an academic context, and I urge schol ars to continue putting forth studies that bring gender studies to light. College Opportunities for Learning About Gender Other than scholars putting forth more research on gender studies, another way to create more of a discourse with gender issues is to have more classes that teach gender. One of the participants of this study mentioned that she had a general understanding of gender because of a sociology class she took as an undergraduate student. By incorporating gender as a topic that is discussed wi thin general studies or education requirements, students will automatically get exposure into understanding gender. Having an understanding of gender versus sex is extremely important for the progression towards the equality of women and men. The college setting is an ideal time for this exposure so that future leaders and professionals can go into their careers with a basic understanding of gender and help to avoid the potential for discrimination.


56 In this study, it was found that one of the main goals of most Latin sororities is to serve as tool for the empowerment of women. Nuezs (2004) study on ethnic identity development in Latina -based sororities confirmed this as well. I touched on this slightly in the analysis section of the thesis, but will go over it now more thoroughly in the recommendations and personal reflections section. Based on my own experiences within the Latin Greek system, I would say that Latin sororities can be very empowering for women who join. Members are opened up to many ne w opportunities. Because they are now in an organization with women of very diverse interests, members learn about all areas of campus life, varying career paths, differing political points of view, tips on raising children, etc. The possibilities are endless. After all, the idea of the Latin sorority was created to serve as a second family and support system away from home. Latin women no longer have to be by themselves in college. They have a second family that can help the along the way, and it serv es to empower them. Despite the fact that I think Latin sororities do a relatively good job with empowering women, they could be doing a better job. Similar to the confusion over the idea of the feminist is this idea of empowerment. There are many peopl e that believe that being feminist is helping women become more masculine. A purpose of the feminist is to have women be able to take on big po litical positions and become Chief Executive Officer s of companies. This is part of the idea behind feminism an d empowerment, but nowhere near the entire concept. In order to empower women, ALL women must have the opportunity to be empowered. Just like a woman should be able to be President of the United States, a woman should also be able to be a housewife if she so chooses. This idea is the same for men. If this were the case, gender roles would not exist. Any given person could live whatever lifestyle they wish. Latin sororities and the idea of empowerment that goes behind them fall into the trap of truly e mpowering only certain types of women. Because the sorority


57 culture pushes for the members to be career -oriented and fit into the capitalist stereotypically male version of success, it tends to leave members in the dust who do not wish to follow those pa ths. Participants in this study even mentioned that the push to become more successful in this manner is beneficial for some members, but it was also detrimental for others. If Latin sororities are going to truly empower all women that become members, then it needs to be less restrictive in terms of what it means to be empowered and successful. Personal Reflections I hope this study serves as a helpful introduction into the tacit gendered expectations and lifestyles of Latin Greek members. The culture w ithin these organizations as well as many others is often taken for granted and issues like gender dynamics often go unnoticed. This is something I hope to begin to change. We as people need to be more aware of who we are and what is going on around us. These organizations need to understand what gender ideals they are putting forth (whether consciously or subconsciously) so that they can understand the influence they are having on members and on the Latin community as a whole. When members have a full understanding of what ideals they are actually putting forth instead of what they merely stand for on paper, then they can start molding the organization to portray and influence the way they ideally would like. Without this self understanding of the orga nization sub culture (gender being included), issues such as discrimination and inequality will proceed to exist. Latin Greek organizations are no exception and with their growing popularity, it is important that issues such as gender dynamics be discusse d and examined.


58 APPENDIX A GLOSSARY ADDRESS/ADDRESSING This is a pseudonym for the actual name of the term for the purpose of confidentiality. It is one of the traditions that exist within the Latin Greek culture. During a performance or demonstration sorority members will march until their planned location to address the people they are about to acknowledge The address consists of sayings and hand motions that the members wish to convey. They do this in unison. CHI BETA A pseudonym for a Latin or Latin -based fraternity on the University College campus. GREEK/FRATERNITY AND/OR SORORITY These terms are used interchangeably in this study to mean an organization that is comprised of men, women and/or both. These organizations usually have a name that consists of several Greek letters. They will also have secrets only known by members and traditions that are organization specific. HISPANIC/LATINO/A/LATIN. These terms are used interchangeably in this study to mean the same thing, a person whose culture or origin was originally associated with Spain rather than England. LGBT The acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Non heterosexual. It is used to describe the community that does not identify as heterosexual. KAPPA MU A pseudonym for a Latin or Latin-based fraternity on the University College campus. MACHISTA/MACHISMO This is a Spanish word that has the literal translation of the English word chauvinistic. To be machista is to take on a male -dominating persona. MARCHING One of the traditions that exist within the Latin Greek culture. During a performance or demonstration, the sorority members will form a line and proceed to march as a unit. Marching is used to get from one point to another within the demonstration. PHI DELTA. A pseudonym used for the Latin sorority the participants are members of. PROCESS. This refers to the initiation practices and time period that take place in order for a person to become a member of the fraternity or sorority. RHO EPSILON. A pseudonym for a Latin or Latin-based sorority on the University College campus. SPD. A pseudonym used for the organization on the campus of University College promoting LGBTQ rights. SPD is an acronym that is not real and therefore does not spell out a real name.


59 UNIVERSITY COLLEGE. A pseudonym used in place of the university name where the participants attend college.


60 APPENDIX B INVITATION TO STUDY September 15, 2008 Phi Delta c/o Greek Affa irs University College Southeastern, United States Dear Members of Phi Delta: Hello! My name is Lola Bovell, and I am a graduate student at the Univers ity of Florida I am writing you today as a fellow Latin Greek that hopes to further and advan ce scholarly research on Latin fraternities and s ororities, and I hope your chapter will be interested in participating. So that you know a little bit more about myself, I am a sister of Phi Delta. During my experience as an undergraduate, (before and after I became a sister) I noticed that gender and gender issues were constantly coming up in the experiences of Latin Greek members. This is something that intrigued me significantly, and I knew would be the source of future r esearch interests. I am now a graduate student in the department of Womens Studies, and have the opportunity to investigate further. When I initially looked for scholarly research that had been done on gender within the Latin Greek community I found vir tually nothing. As it is, there is very little research on Latin fraternities and s ororities as a whole. I did notice, however, that there is a significant amount of resea rch on traditionally Caucasian fraternities and s ororities as well as traditionally Black f rate rnities and s ororities. This realization alone made me realize the importa nce of doing research on Latin fraternities and s ororities. More research needs to be done in the Latin Greek sector, and there is no better time to start than now.


61 I come to you today to ask if your chapter would be willing to participate in my research study abo ut gender perceptions of Latin fraternity and s orority members. In order to commit, I would prefer that at least ten members of your chapter be willing to pa rticipate. Participants will be asked to take part in an individual interview that will last approximately 60 90 minutes. At a future time, participants will be asked to meet with the fellow participating chapter members, so that focus group questions ca n be asked to the group as a whole. The focus group will last approximately 60 90 minutes. Therefore, the time each individual participant will commit to the study is two to three hours in total. The time between the individual interview and focus group will depend on the date and time arrangements made with me. In both the interview and focus group the topics being discussed will be race, gender, and sexuality within Latin Fraternities and Sororities, and the Latin Greek community as a whole. The inte rviews and focus groups can be conducted on your campus. I would just ask that after times and dates of the interviews and focus groups are decided, that a room on campus be reserved solely for the use of this study. I can work my schedule around numerous dates and times in November and early December. I would ideally like to do all of the individual interviews over the span of one or two days, and have the focus group on the second day. Individual names, chapter names, and fraternity/sorority na mes will all be kept confidential and will not be published. The information from the interviews and focus groups will be analyzed, but no names of any kind will be used in the thesis. The purpose of this study is to exami ne gender perceptions of Latin f raternity and s orority members as a whole, not individual members, chapters, or organizations. It is because of this and your own privacy that I ask that you do not discuss the potential of participating in this study with any other chapters,


62 organization s, etc. If a National Board member, Regional Board member, etc. needs to be informed about participation in this study this is fine, but for the purpose of your chapter and members confidentiality it is best that only people that have to know are informed. Participation in this study is completely voluntary, and participants have the right to withdraw from the study at anytime without consequence. I realize that you and your chapter may have many questions for me. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. My contact information is listed below. I do ask that you and your chapter let me know as soon as possible that you are willing or not willing to participate. The number of chapters that are allowed to participate is limited, and part icipation in this study is first come first serve. The earlier I know what chapters will be participating, the sooner I can schedule the interviews and focus groups, and potentially ask other chapters and organizations if they are willing to participate. The deadline for potential participating chapters to inform me of participation is Monday, October 27th 2008, but again please remember that space is limited so advance notification is preferred. I want to personally thank you for taking the time to rea d this letter, and for potentially participating in this research study. As I stated earlier, this research study is the first study of its kind, and will hopefully serve as a staple in scholarly r esearch about Latin fraternity and s orority life. Thanks a gain! Sincerely, Lola Sophia Bovell 2841 SW 13th Street Apt. D316 Gainesville FL 32608 Cell: (305)5194249 Email:


63 APPENDIX C INTERVIEW QUESTIONS In order to preserve confidentiality the real names of the fraternity and sorority, and University will not be used. Instead of using the real fraternity or sorority name, Phi Delta will be used. Instead of using the real university name, University College (UC) will be used. You do not have to answer any question you do not wish to answer. The Empowerment of Latin Sorority Women: Gender Perceptions in Latin Sororities Interview Questions (Adapted from Nuez, 2004 and Guardia, 2006) Interview I: Ethnicity and Background 1 How old are you and where were you born? 2 Where did you grow up? 3 How would you describe the community you grew up in? 4 Where is your family from? For example, where were your father and mother born, grandmother, etc.? 5 What do your parents do for a living, and what was their highest level of education? 6 How many brothers and sisters do you have? 7 Where did you go to high school and what was it like? 8 Were you involved in any clubs? If so, which ones? If not, why not? 9 Do you identify as Hispanic Latino? Is there a specific country that you identify with? 10. Have you always id entified as this ethnicity? When did you realize that you felt that you belonged to this group? Has there been a point in time in your life that you felt closer to your ethnicity? Why? 11. In terms of sexuality, how would you identify yourself? For example, bisexual, heterosexual, non -heterosexual non -heterosexual etc. 12. How do you identify in terms of religion and/or spirituality? For example, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, etc. Why do you identify as that? 13. What influence has that religious and/or spi ritual affiliation had on your perceptions and your life?


64 14. Who and/or what was a major influence in you going to college? 15. Why did you choose to go to the University College? 16. What is it like being a student at UC? 17. What other activities and organizations are you involved with at UC? 18. Why did you choose to be a member of a Latin Fraternity/Sorority? 19. How long have you been a member Phi Delta? 20. Why did you choose to become a member of Phi Delta? 21. How much time do you spend taking part in Phi Delta activities or acti vities on behalf of Phi Delta? 22. What is one of your most positive experiences with Phi Delta? 23. What is one of your most negative experiences with Phi Delta? 24. Has the college community influenced how you identify yourself in terms of ethnicity? 25. Has the college community influenced how you identify yourself as a man, woman, etc.? If so, how? Interview 2: 1 What does being Latino mean to you? 2 How would you define gender? 3 Do you define yourself as a man, woman, etc.? 4 What does being a man or a woman mean to you? 5 Are there specific gender roles that you think are associated with being a man or woman? 6 How about the Latino community? Are there specific gender roles that you think are associated with being a man or a woman in the Latino community? Please describe be liefs, traditions, and cultural values that you feel influence how your ethnicity group views gender. 7 How does your identity as a person match up to the gender roles that you mentioned are those of a Latino man or woman? 8 What is a college event or experi ence that made you think about gender?


65 9 Has your perception of gender changed since attending college? How has that perception impacted you and how you view yourself, family, friends, etc.? 10. How has it been for you to maintain the Latino cultural values in terms of gender on this college campus? 11. What struggles or challenges have you experienced on the UC campus because you are a Latino/a? 12. What struggles or challenges have you experienced on the UC campus because you are a man/ woman? 13. What struggles or challe nges have you experienced on the UC campus because you are a Latino/a man/woman? 14. How is gender identity defined within Phi Delta? 15. Describe how the fraternity/sorority has confirmed or developed your identity as a Latino/a man/woman, etc.? 16. How have other members of the fraternity/sorority influenced your understanding of being a man/woman in the Latino community? 17. How do you define being a Latino/a man/woman as opposed to what you think the group ideal is of a Latino/a/ man/woman? 18. Has your perception of gen der changed since you became a member of Phi Delta? 19. How do you think your fraternity/sorority portrays gender? 20. Of all the traditions and activities your fraternity/sorority takes part in what has the biggest impact on gender and how gender is perceived? 21. A re any aspects of gender taught or expected within the organization? 22. What are the major advantages and disadvantages of being a member of Phi Delta? Is there any major advantage or disadvantage in terms of gender specifically? 23. How do you think the Latino Greek community as a whole views and portrays gender? 24. What is the overall climate in your fraternity/sorority in terms of non -heterosexual issues and potential non -heterosexual members? Is it welcoming towards the non heterosexual community? 25. Do you have a ny non -heterosexual members now? H ow are the members perceived? 26. Do you think the Latino Greek community as a whole is accepting of the gay community, and non -heterosexual members? Why or why not?


66 27. Are there any additional comments you would like to make regarding gender identity within Phi Delta and the Latino Greek Community as a whole?


67 APPENDIX D FOCUS GROUP QUESTIONS In order to preserve confidentiality the real names of the fraternity and sorority, and University will not be used. Instead of using the real fraternity or sorority name, Phi Delta will be used. Instead of using the real university name, University College (UC) will be used. You do not have to answer any question you do not wish to answer. The Empowerment of Latin Sorority Women: Gend er Perceptions in Latin Sororities Focus Group Questions (Adapted from Nuez, 2004 and Guardia, 2006) 1. What made you want to join a Latin Fraternity/Sorority? 2. What made you specifically want to be a member of Phi Delta? 3. Before coming to college, how did your family, friends and surrounding community influence how you identify as an individual? By identification I mean everything from race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, etc.? 4. How would you identify yourself now, and has there been much of change from before you came to college? 5. What college experiences have influenced how you identify in terms of gender and how you view gender as a whole? 6. How is gender identity defined within Phi Delta? 7. We spoke about gender roles in your interviews. What gender roles do you think are expected within Phi Delta? 8. How has your perception of gender changed since you became a member of Phi Delta? 9. How does your identity in terms of gender and gender roles differ from the gender identity Phi Delta portrays as a whole? 10. How do you think the Latino Greek Community as a whole views and portrays gender? 11. At this time Id like to open up the floor for any additional comments youd like to make regarding gender within Phi Delta and the Latino Greek community as a whole?


68 APPENDIX E INFORMED CONSENT Informed Consent Protocol Title: Gender Perceptions of Latin fraternity and s orority members Please read this consent document carefully before you decide to participate in this study. Purpose of the research study: The purpose of this study is to examine how Latin Fraternities and Sororities impact members perceptions of gender. What you will be asked to do in the study: You will be asked to take part in an individual interview that will last approximately 60 90 minutes. At a future time, you will be asked to meet with your fellow fraternity/sorority members that are participating in this study, so that focus group questions can be asked to the group as a whole. The time between the interviews and focus group will depend on the date and time arrangement made between chapter members and Lola Bovell. The focus group may occur immediately following the final interview, on the following day, or even the following week dep ending on the arrangement made. The focus group will last approximately 60 90 minutes. In both the interview and focus group the topics being discussed will be race, gender, and sexuality within Latin Fraternities and Sororities, and the Latino Greek c ommunity. Where the study will be conducted: The interviews and focus groups will be conducted on the campus of the Latin Fraternity/Sorority members. Who will conduct the study? Lola Sophia Bovell will conduct the study. Her contact information is listed below. Time required: 2 3 hours Risks and Benefits: There are no anticipated risks or benefits with this study. Compensation:


69 You will not be paid for participating in this research. Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the exte nt provided by law. Your information will be assigned a code number. The list connecting your name to this number will be kept in a locked file in my faculty supervisor's office. When the study is completed and the data have been analyzed, the list will be destroyed. Your name will not be used in any report. The interviews and focus groups will be audio recorded. The recordings will only be used for the sake of this study, and only will be shared with Lola Bovell and her faculty committee members, Dr. St ephanie Evans, Dr. Milagros Pena, and Dr. Anita Anantharam. The audiotapes will be maintained, but will be kept secure in a locked file in Lola Bovells storage space. In the focus group, members will be encouraged to treat the discussion as confidential, but it cannot be guaranteed that they will do so. It is also encouraged that members do not use the names of others in their discussions. Results: The information gathered in the interviews and focus groups will serve as information to be analyzed in the Master of Arts thesis by Lola Sophia Bovell. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at a nytime without consequence. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Lola Bovell, Graduate Student, Womens Studies Department, 200 Ustler Hall, PO Box 117352, Gainesville, FL 32611, Phone: (352)3923365 Stephanie Evans, PhD, College of Liber al Arts and Sciences, Womens Studies Department, 200 Ustler Hall, PO Box 117352, Gainesville, FL 32611, Phone: (352)3923365 Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: IRB02 Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gaines ville, FL 326112250; phone 3920433.


70 Agreement: I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participant: ___________________________________________ Date: _________________ Principal Investigator: ___________________________________ Date: _________________


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75 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Lola Sophia Bovell received her Bachelor of Arts degree in political s cience from the University of Florida in 2007. She received her Master of Arts degree from the Womens Studies Program at the University of Florida in the spring of 2009