Women of Color in Higher Education: Changing Directions and New Perspectives: Volume 10

Cover of Women of Color in Higher Education: Changing Directions and New Perspectives

Table of contents

(29 chapters)

Cultures do not change easily for various reasons. This is particularly true of higher education that too often denies the existence of any systemic barriers to faculty advancement. While not confined to the academy, the intractable nature of institutional culture is particularly significant when related to the experiences of faculty women of color. It is the issues and challenges occasioned by this very cultural intractability on which the editors and contributing authors of this two-edited volume, Women of Color in Higher Education: Turbulent Past, Promising Future (Vol. 9) and Women of Color in Higher Education: Contemporary Perspectives and New Directions (Vol. 10), focus their conceptual and empirical work. Specifically, the chapters provide a broad overview of the characteristics and experiences of women of color (e.g., African American, Latina/Hispanic American, Native American, and Asian/Pacific American) whose increased presence in senior level administrative and academic positions in higher education is transforming the political climate.

Research to improve access and equity for women of color in higher education offers insights on the nuanced challenges and opportunities that exist today. In the past, women of color confronted overt discrimination in their pursuit of educational and career attainment. Today, they are likely to face more subtle practices couched in what Miller (2010) coins, the “deservingness” status suggesting that although women of color have gained entry in the academy, they come under scrutiny in their faculty and administrative roles. Despite such scrutiny, their presence in the academy has brought them a measure of social independence, ushered in multiple perspectives to enrich students' learning experiences, and have challenged traditional approach to research knowledge, and leadership theories and practices (Glazer Raymo, 2008; Jean-Marie, Williams & Sherman, 2009; Lloyd-Jones, 2009).

This chapter examines the lack of diversification in higher education administration and specifically focuses on the scarcity of women of color in formal, high-level positions of leadership at predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) in the United States. Four main questions fuel the discussion: (1) What theoretical definitions are useful for understanding the social constructed meanings of women of color? (2) How does the concept of stereotypes contribute to the underrepresentation of women of color in higher education administration? (3) How do leadership paradigms and subsequent theories influence perceptions of leadership? and (4) What leadership paradigms and theories better address the exclusion of women of color from decision-making positions of leadership in higher education and therefore take into consideration dimensions of diversity and the changing face of leadership?

This chapter focuses on the career paths of African American women in collegiate athletics. Through a review of literature and policy analysis, three overarching themes emerged and is the focus of this chapter: (1) challenges and barriers African American women encounter in pursuing careers in collegiate athletics with a particular focus on extant inequities of African American women in administrative and head coaching positions; (2) professional sport development programs tailored to improve career opportunities for African American women and other minorities; and (3) strategies to alleviate challenges and barriers African American women endure in collegiate athletics.

Myra Gordon (2004) argues that “the real reason for a general failure to diversify lies in the culture and practices typically associated with faculty hiring” (p. 184). This chapter examines the faculty hiring process and how it contributes to the underrepresentation of female faculty of color and to what happens to them if they are hired. Drawing on the existing literature and insights from critical theory and signal theory, the dissection of the process considers how institutionalized norms characteristic of the dominant group in the academy (white, males) play a role in the exclusion (oppression) of nontraditional candidates, and signal their fit with those norms.

In this chapter, we consider the lessons that may be learned from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) about how to promote degree attainment for African American women in STEM fields. Specifically, we examine the presence of African American women in the STEM fields, discuss the conventional wisdom on the preparation of STEM graduates, as well as the role that HBCUs play in promoting the success of African American women. We conclude with recommendations for improving the degree attainment of African American women in STEM fields.

As more women faculty of color enter the professoriate, they are evaluating, clashing with, and challenging old practices, while simultaneously articulating and establishing new ones (James & Farmer, 1993). To do so effectively, these women are best served by a network of mentors (Baugh & Scandura, 1999; Higgins & Kram, 2001) who can facilitate their development of career competencies, help them understand “the rules of the game” for scholarly activity, and transform the normalized construction of academic environments that is sometimes exclusionary of women faculty of color (Tillman, 2001; Young & Brooks, 2008). Mentoring networks are vital support structures in a successful academic career, as emerging scholars seek to navigate the complex and protean racial and gender dynamics of academic institutions (Sorcinelli & Yun, 2007). In this chapter, we explore issues of acclimatization of women new to the professoriate, with a particular focus on developing and sustaining effective mentoring networks for women of color. Furthermore, we examined extant research to gain insights on how women new to academe can build mentoring networks to create peer communities that advance scholarship and teaching, provide useful advice on tenure and promotion, help scholars balance personal and professional roles, and manage time. The following broad questions guided our chapter: (1) What types of mentors and mentoring relationships should early career women of color faculty should seek? (2) How are norms between protégés and mentors created, reinforced and sustained? and (3) What are the benefits of same-race/same-gender mentorships and cross-race/cross-gender mentorships?

The purpose of this study was to examine whether middle-level female administrators (particularly women of color) in the California Community College system were being mentored to higher-level positions and whether the retention of leaders in higher-level positions was influenced by mentoring. Specifically, this study examined the mobility and retention of female administrators through a web-based survey that was completed by 156 females currently working in administrative positions at the dean's level or higher in California Community Colleges. Data were also collected through face-to-face interviews with 11 female administrators, 5 of whom were women of color, in senior-level positions from vice president to chancellor. These interviews reflected a range of demographics and were located in Northern, Central, and Southern California. The focus of this chapter is on the responses of the respondents who were women of color.

The study addressed two questions: (1) What effect did mentoring, if any, have on a person's ability to achieve higher-level leadership positions? and (2) What relationship does mentorship have on the retention of women of color in leadership? Findings reported that mentoring was having a positive and often significant influence on women of color administrators and leaders in the California Community College System.

The literature on women of color (WOC) faculty is replete with accounts of marginalization (Balderrama, Texeira, & Valdez, 2006; Benjamin, 1997; Garcia, 2005; John, 1997; Li & Beckett, 2006; McKay, 1997; Reyes, 2005). For instance, Balderrama et al. (2006) explains, “I come from a family of survivors, but I never realized it would come to that in academia …Little did I know I was entering one of the bastions of conservative ideology and practices – a far cry from a meritocracy working for the public good” (Balderrama et al., 2006, p. 224). Concomitantly, the higher education literature extols the presence of race and gender diversity because they are associated with elevated learning outcomes and intercultural engagement (Chang, 2002; Gurin, 1999; Milem & Hakuta, 2002). Therein lies the quandary. Given the importance of illuminating the challenges that WOC face within the academy, how then can that discourse be broadened to include empirical and theoretical claims about the relationship between WOC agency and structural transformation? In other words, how can WOC move beyond or within structural constraints to contribute to the teaching and learning environment? Equally important, how does the presence of WOC encourage a diversity conversation beyond student learning outcomes to one that emphasizes social equity? This chapter intends to participate in these emergent conversations in two ways. First, drawing from an empirical study of Black female faculty, I discuss how the participants contributed to their institutions and how those contributions embody and expand on the following diversity narratives: structural access and climate, learning outcomes, intercultural competencies, and meritocracy. Second, I theoretically expound upon the Black female faculty findings to discuss implications for similarly situated WOC. In all, this chapter demonstrates that difference – a woman of color difference – dislodges reactionary strongholds within the academic enterprise.

Analyzing national statistical 2007 data from the U.S. Department of Education, this chapter examines the current status and trends concerning Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) women in higher education by looking at their presence at key levels of the higher education pipeline. It considers their representation as doctoral degree holders, assistant professors, tenured professors, and college/university presidents. The findings demonstrate that AAPI women are underrepresented as faculty in contrast to the large and growing numbers of AAPI women students who make up the talent pool to the professoriate. Moreover, despite the in-roads AAPI women have made as faculty members, race and gender disparities still persist and grow as the rank increases. AAPI female faculty representation stalls very early on in the pipeline, namely, in being hired and at tenure, and continues to shrink as the pipeline advances. AAPI male and white female faculty may also face barriers to the top, but Asian American women faculty may experience them sooner. Consequently, the numbers of AAPI women full professors are small and as campus presidents they are miniscule. However, for white men, their representation increases as the pipeline advances.

The role gender plays in academia has provided unique experiences and challenges for women (Hill, Leinbaugh, Bradley, & Hazler, 2005). Inequalities in salary, as well as promotion and tenure, are issues women in higher education have had to endure since their entrance into the academy. For women of color there is an additional layer to their struggles that is predicated on the impact of race and ethnicity, all synergistically affecting how women of color enter, negotiate, and are retained within academia. This chapter explores themes around the issues that require women of color to subjugate the self to succeed and find acceptance in academia. This chapter illuminates the unwritten rules that often decide the fate of women faculty of color; as well as how women of color are navigating the intersection of race and gender in academia. Feminist theoretical approaches and narrative inquiry have been employed to draw out themes from the stories of eleven women of color who currently or previously held academic positions.

Although progress has been made, women faculty of color (i.e. American Indian/Alaska Native, African American, Hispanic, and Asian/Asian Pacific Islanders) continues to experience a number of challenges in the academy. Without proper supports and strategies many of these women will leave the academy prematurely or will not be successful in their quest for promotion and tenure. The purpose of this chapter is to identify the challenges these women encounter, as well as the strategies they adopt in response to these challenges. In doing so, the authors argue that a strong sense of self-efficacy is a core trait of successful women faculty of color; a trait that cuts across all racial and ethnic groups. The authors conclude with implications for fostering support for women faculty of color, as well as recommendations for future research.

Much of the research on the experiences of faculty of color makes clear the barriers such faculty face in academe. The research on women of color, while considerably less developed than that of faculty of color in general, is quite similar in pointing out the obstacles such women face in academe. Such literature does, however, seek to offer perspectives on how sexism intersects with racism to create a particularly unique context for women of color. Reporting on narratives from women of color as they relate to the research criterion in the promotion and tenure process, I seek to offer insights into how the academy traffics in race narratives, which constrains the options faculty women of color might have, but in doing so, paradoxically, open up spaces for these women to challenge social inequalities. The aim of this chapter is to move beyond the very linear notion of racism and sexism common in the literature on women of color and toward an understanding of the interplay between academic structures (i.e., the academic roles required of women of color) and individual agency (i.e., what women do with and because of these roles) in how one might account for the roles that race and gender play in academe.

This chapter focuses on the barriers women of color (WOC) in the professoriate face in their pursuit of tenure and promotion and provides selected strategies that build bridges for their success. It draws on critical race theory (CRT) to identify structural as well as individual changes that must be made in academe. The chapter addresses selected strategies for African-American, Latina American, and Asian/Pacific American women to successfully traverse the perilous road from untenured assistant professor to tenured full professor. The Newcomer Adjustment framework of the Organizational Socialization Model (OSM; Bauer, Bodner, Erdogan, Truxillo, & Tucker, 2007) is used as a systematic approach to addressing barriers and building bridges for WOC in the professoriate. Gaps in the research are also identified.

Using life notes methodology (Dillard, 2006; Simmons, 2007), an earlier-career, Black female scholar in educational leadership chronicles her journey through obtaining her doctorate and transitioning to the professoriate at a Research I institution. In doing so, she highlights three “academic star” role models, shares her personal challenges, and offers three lessons about family, fit, and moving forward for other tenure-track faculty.

As a Black Anglophone Caribbean woman, I present some reflections of my professional development journey, stemming from the early beginnings in my home country leading to the United States ivory tower. While many stories have been told of the Black woman in academe, little has been shared about the professional development history of the Black Caribbean woman who has made significant strides in US higher education. In telling my story, I begin with a snapshot of the history of experiences in my home country and in the United States since the contexts of these experiences influence how I respond to daily life's events as a faculty and associate dean at a top tier research university. After this historical portrait, I highlight some critical events that contributed to my transformation of self and ideology in the United States, how I came to terms with being a racialized minority in predominantly white professional spaces, and my approaches to the management of discriminatory and hegemonic practices in such spaces. Lastly, I conclude with some thoughts on how women of color can proactively manage their professional careers in higher education.

Teacher education programs have begun to address the dilemma of preparing a predominantly white and female teaching force to work with diverse populations whose experiences have no connection to the students they will teach (Darling-Hammond, 2006). Those who teach courses that address cultural diversity are challenged to engage students in meaningful dialogue about all things multicultural, as well as provoke thought about understanding the importance of cultural competence and its impact on teaching practice. The university classroom is where meaningful and transformative conversations must occur and they begin with acceptance of ourselves – all of us – as cultural beings.

African-American and Latino students are failing to make the grade in higher education. The numbers of black and Hispanic college graduates lag significantly behind white and Asian-American students, and the numbers are even lower at the master's and doctorate level (Ryu, 2010). And while Latino/as are the largest and fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, they remain the least well educated at all levels of degree attainment. As educators, we are left challenged as to how to break the cycle. In many instances, colleges and universities succeed at the recruitment of students of color, yet retention and attrition are more daunting tasks. We include as part of this reflection piece – and a way to inform this chapter – reference to research (Peña, Hernandez, Viernes-Turner & Dirks, 2007) we conducted with several colleagues that studied African-Americans and Latinos/as in higher education, as well as our personal observations as mentors in minority mentoring programs. We also offer our insights as two academics who were once thought of as high-risk students but are now enjoying careers in the field of sociology. We have discovered that minority students value seeing their own as not only professors but in the first author's case, an associate dean.

The two-edited volumes, Women of Color: Turbulent Past, Promising Future and Women of Color: Changing Directions and New Perspectives focus on the increased presence of African American, Latina/Hispanic American, Native American, and Asian/Pacific Islander American women in senior-level administrative and academic positions in higher education and on ways they are transforming the social and political climate to be more inclusive of women of color. The chapters draw from theoretical, empirical, and reflective perspectives, and identify gaps in the research, compare and contrast the experiences of women of color, and explore possible linkages between their experiences. The compilation underscores three themes important to the advancement of women of color in higher education that have implications for future generations of diverse racial and ethnic groups in the academy.

Mary V. Alfred, Ph.D. is an associate dean for Research and Faculty Affairs and professor of Adult Education and Human Resource Development in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University. Her research interests include learning and development among women of the African Diaspora, socio-cultural contexts of immigration, welfare reform and women's economic development, and issues of equity and social justice in higher education and in the workplace. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a focus in Adult Education and Human Resource Development Leadership from the University of Texas at Austin.

Cover of Women of Color in Higher Education: Changing Directions and New Perspectives
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Diversity in Higher Education
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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