W.O.K.E.  (Worldwide Open Knowledge Exchange)

The Wrong Attire!

The Intersection of Gender, Race and Network Building

(Re)Producing "ideal" workers and the primacy of work is in a nutshell, living up to standards that are set by a company for necessary success. In the relationship between universities, companies and students, educational institutions play a key role in the success of transitioning from school to work. Schools form strong ties with corporations to sometimes behave as an information center for the most qualified students, and to place strong graduates in prominent positions. The relationship fostered in this setting is generally done on the merit of the perception of school’s reputation, the quality of students that attend, which in turn attracts more students of prestige and so the story goes. Yet, what happens when the demands of the organization for a certain caliber of student isn’t met? According to the National Center for Education and Statistics (NCES, 2005), the number of students entering the college arena has increased tremendously, and the amount of African American and Latino students, from disadvantaged communities have increased in a rate higher than 19% to date.

In the article, the intersection of gender, race, and class in networking, graduate student and intern Sarah Damaske, studied the macro and micro – levels of organizational demands as they are “operationalized” as a logical tool to a response to pressures created by the institution. What Sarah did not expect to find was the significant number of corporations that held some sort of race and gender bias towards students that did not fit their description as being employable. Because of the relational ties, company demands and university management expectations, the Student Career Center’s faculty members began to feel pressed to do, retain, or rebuild strong relationships with what they perceived to be “quality” corporations, who mainly desired Caucasian male and female students. The Student Career Center and staff decided to face the challenge head on through the manipulation of the numbers that reflect the number of students to receive services from the Student Career Center. In addition to the misleading numbers, the center decided to reinforce the race and gender inequalities through creating a system that would allow them to easily determine which students should be categorized as being job-worthy, employable, or unemployable.

They established a rule that students with a GPA of 2.5 or higher in certain programs would be afforded access to all the services and programs that the career center had to offer. Unfortunately, this system was only put into place, as a guise to something worst. Instead of fairly adhering to their restrictions, the faculty maintained a double standard for Caucasian and International students, who fell short in the GPA requirements. Instead, the only students that were held to the standards set in place were African American and Latino males. During her observation, Ms. Sarah Damaske witnessed multiple levels of discrimination against the male African American and Latino men, and a great deal of leniency towards Caucasian Women, International Students, and African American and Latino Women. While such behavior is beyond atrocious, it also speaks to the levels that employees will go to meet the demands of some work-life expectations. And while it was beyond excuse, this was a group of employees, who were presented with the unethical demands of (re) producing the ideal candidates as they were described by organizations who would in turn, give them the prestige that would attract a certain type of “marketable” student. What I found most amazing about this article was the method that the Metropolitan University created to address the problem in an attempt to present a “marketable student to future employers. Unfortunately, the male students who were of African American and Latino decent, though bright, hardworking, and in some cases, met the GPA criteria, were still deemed unmarketable because of the one thing that they could never change – the color of their skin!

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