Jennine Pettit


Gottlieb, Derek

Committee Member

Harding, Jenni

Committee Member

Kirshner, Jean D.

Committee Member

Nelson, Kyle A.


College of Education and Behavioral Science; School of Teacher Education, Educational Studies


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley, (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



207 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


This qualitative, multicase study explored the relationship between the educative experiences that allowed some Maya women in Belize to overcome economic and cultural barriers and change the trajectory of their lives. Many Maya girls face indigeneity, rurality, and gender discrimination (Vásquez, 2017), and obtaining a meaningful education was very difficult. The overall question for this study asked how exceptional Maya women perceived the relationship between their educational experiences and their ability to achieve advancement in society? This study also addressed the following sub-questions: How do Maya women describe their journey toward success? What institutional, cultural, or economic obstacles confront Maya women who strive to change their social stratification? Finally, what, if any, formal and/or informal educational experiences inspired Maya women to break down barriers? Three Maya women were chosen to be participants in this study based on specific criteria. Data collection methods included semi-structured and informal interviews, observations, analytic memos, attribute coding matrixes, and artifacts or documents such as letters, photo albums, and national curricular resources. The results revealed the three participants shared the same obstacles: racial discrimination, gender stereotyping, and rurality, making accessing education difficult. Formal and informal educational experiences gave the participants in this study the tools to change their lives and contribute to helping others including gaining knowledge about indigeneity and gender equity, developing a voice, and boosting their confidence. Using these tools, the participants broke down barriers and created positive changes in their communities; they were all recognized by national and international people and organizations for their leadership. This research highlighted the Maya cultures and amplified the voice of each participant as an example of a well-educated, independent, contemporary Maya woman. Future research on the intersectionality of gender, ethnicity, and rurality in Belize would add to the collective stories. Additionally, understanding the role globalization plays in the changes in social status for all groups of people in Belize would help further our understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of neoliberal policies.

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Available for download on Sunday, December 01, 2024