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Maxine Baca Zinn: 1942—: Sociologist Biography

Educational Experiences, Determined To Set The Record Straight, Challenged Mainstream Sociology, An Inspirational Teacher

Sociologist Maxine Baca Zinn has been pivotal in incorporating the experiences of Hispanics into mainstream sociological thought. She has become a leading expert in the fields of family, gender, and ethnicity. Part of an elite group of female sociologists, Baca Zinn has changed the face of feminism by introducing the experiences of women of color to conventional perspectives on gender. She has dedicated her career to building a Latina feminism and has published extensively on the subject. In addition to her research, Baca Zinn has also been recognized for her contributions to teaching and to professional organizations.

Maxine Baca Zinn was born on June 11, 1942, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her mother, Louise Duran Baca, was a first generation college student who earned a bachelor of arts degree and worked as a school-teacher. Her father, Presente Baca, attended college for two years and then worked for the federal government. Baca Zinn has three siblings, all of whom earned college degrees. Santa Fe was a pluralistic society composed of Anglos, Native Americans, and Hispanics. The city gave the impression that these very different ethnic groups lived in harmony. When Baca Zinn began attending grade school she learned that this was not really the case. In particular, some of the children refused to play with her or treated her differently. She was told that this was because of "her culture" but she did not really understand what that meant. In addition, she was trapped academically in "Mexican" classes where the educational expectations were lower than those of the white students. These early experiences of discrimination shaped Baca Zinn's later career choices as she sought to reveal the false images of pluralism and expose Americans to the real experiences of Hispanics.

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