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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Gender, Bilingualism, and the Early Occupational Careers of Second-Generation Mexicans in the South

  • Author(s): Hernandez-Leon, Ruben
  • Morando, Sarah J
  • et al.

Following two decades of Mexican migration to the southern United States, the second generation is entering the labor market.  We analyze the early occupational careers of fifty-eight second-generation young adults in Dalton, Georgia, a global carpet manufacturing center.  We find intergenerational occupational mobility, with children of Mexican immigrants deploying human capital skills to access better jobs than their parents.  However, the Mexican second generation faces opportunity ladders structured along gender lines, with women working in services and men laboring as bilingual supervisors and crew leaders in the carpet industry.  While bilingual skills play a critical role in the employment paths members of the second generation have started to chart, their use of bilingualism is also shaped by gender dynamics in the workplace.

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