Isabel Ayala


Isabel Ayala

  • Title: Assistant Professor
  • Email:    Phone: 517-353-6614
  • Office: 414B Berkey Hall

Degree: Texas A&M University, 2007


Maria Isabel Ayala, (Ph.D., Texas A&M) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Chicano/Latino Studies Program at Michigan State University. Her research agenda examines the social impact that the unique and complex racialization of Latinxs in the U.S. has on their experiences and social behavior. Challenging essentialist understandings of Latinx cultures, her research argues that normative ideologies and Latinxs’ complex social location within the existing racial structure play a critical role in their life course.  Throughout her work, she challenges the deficit perspective by which Latinxs have been examined and instead suggests one of capital. In addition, she discusses the agentive and resilient behaviors of Latinxs in navigating physical, symbolic, and social White spaces. Dr. Ayala’s most recent publications and work under review addresses the experiences of Latinx students in higher education spaces.

Associated Programs: Chicano/Latino Studies
Research Areas: Migration
Selected Publications:

Ayala, María Isabel. 2018.  “The rationalization of college attainment through a color-blind lens among Latina(o) students.” Journal of Latinos and Education. DOI: 10.1080/15348431.2018.1478296

Ayala, María Isabel[1] and Sheila Contreras. 2018. “It’s Capital! Understanding Latina/o Presence in Higher Education.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. DOI: 10.1177/2332649218757803

Ayala, María Isabel. 2017. “Intra-Latina Fertility Behavior.” Women, Gender, and Families of Color 5(2): 129-152.

Ayala, María Isabel. 2017. “Bargaining Power and Cumulative Fertility: Exploring Inter-Racial Differences.” Border Lines Journal. (Forthcoming). 

Ayala, María Isabel1 and Dana Chalupa[2]. 2016. “Beyond the Latino Essentialist Experience: Racial and Ethnic Self Identification and College Attainment.” Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 38(3): 378-394.

Ayala, María Isabel1 and Lorena Murga. 2016. “Patriarchy and Women’s Multidimensional Agency: A Case Study of a Mexican Sending Village.”Women’s Studies International Forum 59: 1–8.

Ayala, María Isabel. 2015. “Demography of Race and Ethnicity in Mexico.” Pp. 73-90 in International Handbook of the Demography of Race and Ethnicity, edited by Rogelio Saenz, Nestor Rodriguez and David G. Embrick. Dordrecht, NL: Springer Press.

[1] First Author

[2] Former Graduate Student and Mentee at Michigan State University.

Curriculum Vitae: Download