Women of Color in Higher Education: Turbulent Past, Promising Future: Volume 9

Cover of Women of Color in Higher Education: Turbulent Past, Promising Future

Table of contents

(28 chapters)

We stand on the shoulders of our predecessors is the motto for women of color as they navigate the waters of higher education. Success now and the promise for the future in this journey for women of color in higher education is only possible because of the struggles and obstacles faced by those before trying to gain entry into the academy, typically reserved for white males. The waters in the past have been turbulent because of the chilly climate faced by many women faculty and marginalization of faculty of color in the academy. Women of color faced double and triple jeopardy due to the pernicious effects of racism, sexism, and classism as they strived to ascend to positions of leadership. They made history for themselves as they paved the way for others to follow. With so many more women of color today as students and faculty, and even in leadership roles, they are still underrepresented and not part of the privileged elite that define the ranks of leadership within higher education.

This volume's title, Women of Color in Higher Education: Turbulent Past, Promising Future, suggests women of color have endured a tumultuous past, given their historical experience with discrimination as a result of both racism and sexism in the United States. Collectively identified as African American, Asian/Pacific American, Hispanic/Latina, and Native American women in the United States, women of color share membership in marginalized groups and they experience varied forms of discrimination in their efforts to fully and equally participate in society (Lloyd-Jones, 2011). Discussions of these injustices and their effects are included in chapters throughout the volume. The chapters feature relevant experiences specific to women faculty and administrators of color in higher education. These include examinations of the progress of women of color in academia, as demonstrated by their increased (but still underrepresented) presence in senior-level administrative and faculty positions, and suggestions for a more inclusive academic environment for women of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The compilation of chapters in fact, provides conceptual, empirical, and reflective knowledge implicitly revealing the “present” status of women of color in predominantly White institutions of higher education. Many of the contributors provide implications and recommendations for a “promising future” in their chapters.

Given the demographic shift in American society, higher education institutions are faced with the challenge to prepare students for a diverse society. Efforts to diversify the gender, racial, and ethnic makeup of faculty and administrators in universities show promise but institutional challenges threaten such progress. In this chapter, the author explores the breadth and scope of scholarship on the trends impacting women of color in higher education. Two major areas are the focus of analysis: (1) transformation of higher education since the passage of Title IX. Widely associated with athletics and now celebrating 40 years since its enactment, Title IX has been instrumental in creating access for women of diverse ethnic and racial background. Historically, Title IX is credited with closing the gender gap in higher education; but has it really?; and (2) dismantling structural and social barriers that threaten authentic inclusion of women of color. The interlocking effects of gender, race, and ethnicity can compound pressures of the workplace environment for women of color (Turner, 2002). Coupled with that are climate issues that can create an uninviting or hostile environment for women of color in faculty or administrative positions. The diversification of women of color in higher education has important implications for policy and practice, and raises important questions about institutional commitments.

Feminist perspectives from women of color did not emerge solely as a result from racism in the white feminist movements; such an assumption negates the agency of feminists of color (Roth, 2004). Instead, feminist perspectives by women of color emerged from historical and sociopolitical dynamics within their own communities of origin, as well as in relationship to each other, including in opposition to, and at times in concert with, the white feminist movements. This chapter explores the development, complexities, and unique contributions of Womanist, Black Feminist Thought, hip-hop, Chicana, Native American, global, Asian American, Arab American and ecofeminism. These feminist perspectives include overarching themes, such as the intersectionality of gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, ability, age, religion, nationality, and other important identities and issues. Each contemporary feminist theory also explores the interstices of issues such as education, health, economics, reproduction, sociopolitical, historical, organizational, technological, and myriad interrelated dynamics.

A threefold approach is taken to provide understanding about the experiences that women of color have faced in their entry and upward advancement into administration in higher education institutions. The three overarching frameworks are historical, sociological, and organizational or institutional. The historical approach divides the chapter into three parts: the past (1960–1989), the present (1990–2010), and the future (2010 and beyond). Within these three time periods, major societal forces at work (during the specific time frame) will be used to help explain the extent and type of access women of color had within society's formal institutions. Since specific focus of the book/volume is on women of color in higher education, the third major tread is to reveal what and how university and colleges did to provide greater access and upward mobility for women of color or how such institutional action helped to impede.

Part I: The past shows that since and due to the Civil Rights Movement, women of color were preoccupied with access into higher education as students, faculty, and administrators. The past could rightly be termed the age of Tokenism (1960–1989). During the start, there were too few qualified women of color to be competitive for entry into faculty roles, let alone administrative positions. However, scarcity in numbers does not provide a full picture as to the slow access and low numbers. Instead, society's view was faulty, overly simplistic, and its intervention strategies hurt more than helped the situation. Particularly, the general thinking was that institutions were fair and okay, the problem lay with persons of color; they were disadvantaged in many ways, so they could not compete adequately. However, this one-sided view was biased and placed many unnecessary barriers for women of color and maintained favoritism and control for white males.

Part II: The present (1990–2010) demonstrates that progress by institutions of higher education (IHEs) to include women of color into administration was better but still unnecessarily slow and remained inadequate. While the initial strategies of affirmative action and blaming the victim for their plight were insufficient in the past, dynamics in society changed drastically in the present stage. Primarily, business in the United States, because of world competition, looked inward and out of necessity fundamentally reengineered itself. This one sweeping social dynamic caused traditionally discriminated groups to call for higher education to examine itself. In so doing, institutional racism was exposed and emphasized. No longer were women of color having to fit the white male mode for acceptance, and the customary “rites of passage” were questioned and altered, along with other practices. With a larger qualified pool of women of color due to past efforts, and to a larger extent a more level playing field in higher education, women of color enhanced their status. More importantly, the stage is now set for a much brighter future.

Part III: The future promises to be better for all: women of color, higher education, future generation of students, and society. Even though the conditions higher education institutions are facing are more difficult and the negative trends likely to persist, women of color can make great advances provided they capitalize on the events and assume some different roles. Specifically, it is proposed that women of color should actualize their natural leadership styles of participatory and transformational; they act as agents of change; and make a concerted effort to mentor and network younger women of color. Underlining the promise of a better future is that women of color know how to overcome hardships and they are better able to redesign institutions, change outdated practices, and shape the future of IHEs to fit the new paradigms. To date, on a microlevel this is what they have done to be personally successful, surely they can work on the macrolevel to make for stronger and effective IHEs.

The history of the African American woman in the United States can be described as a struggle for survival and identity within a tripartite of oppression that includes racism, classism, and sexism [Hudson-Weems, C. (1989). The tripartite plight of African American women as reflected in the novels of Hurston and Walker. Journal of Black Studies, 20, 192–207.]. In spite of these challenges, African American women have always considered education an important investment in the future [Gregory, S. T. (1995). Black women in the academy. New York, NY: University Press of American, Inc.)], and despite gender and racial stereotyping that have limited educational opportunities African American females have been inspired to become educators (McFarlin, Crittenden, & Ebbers, 1999). Although African American women are underrepresented in higher educational leadership roles (Ross & Green, 2000; Waring, 2003), little research exploring the development of women leaders in academia, as well of that of existing university presidents, is available (Madsen, 2007). The purpose of this chapter is to explore the career paths of African American university women presidents. This research has important implications to strengthen opportunities to attain these important leadership roles in higher education institutions.

In this phenomenological study, the experiences of seven Black women faculty at predominantly White institutions (PWIs) who are working toward tenure and promotion are presented. The use of phenomenology, specifically in-depth interviews, gives voice to the women as they share the essence of their experiences including their perceived supports and barriers. Understanding their experiences adds to the literature on women of color in education and has the implications for schooling and community, and support structures essential to the success of Black women and all women of color in academe.

Research literature examining the experiences of faculty of color, particularly women in higher education, reveals a pattern of institutional and attitudinal barriers, which is directly linked to successful recruitment and retention of learners and faculty of color (Brayboy, B. M. (2003). The implementation of diversity in predominately White colleges and universities. Journal of Black Studies, 34(1), 72–87; Gregory, 2001; Hughes, R. L., & Howard-Hamilton, M. F. (2003). Insights: Emphasizing issues that affect African American women. In: M. F. Howard-Hamilton (Ed.), New directions for student services. Meeting the needs of African American women (104, pp. 95–104). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; Park, J. J., & Denson, N. (2009). Attitudes and advocacy: Understanding faculty views on racial/ethnic diversity. The Journal of Higher Education, 80(4), 415–438; Project MUSE; Stanley, C. A. (Ed.) (2006). Faculty of color: Teaching in predominantly White colleges and universities. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishers; Turner, 2002; Watson & Shealey, 2010). This chapter provides a review of the recent and relevant research on Black women in teacher education. In addition, the authors conducted a review of research specifically addressing the experiences of Black women in teacher education during the last 10 years. Findings from this summative analysis highlight recent research on the experiences of Black women faculty and shed light on the implications for future research as well as leadership and program development.

The field of education continues to become more diverse with respect to race and gender. Specifically, research on the educational and professional experiences of African American and female scholars have increased (Cubillo & Brown, 2003; Philipsen, 2008; Wolfinger, Mason & Goulden, 2008; Wyche & Graves, 1992). With respect to the field of education, there are a few studies of women's experiences as faculty in educational leadership (Mertz, 2009; Sherman, Beatty, Crum, & Peters, 2010). However, there is a silence in research regarding the experiences of Black (African American) women faculty in the field of educational leadership/administration. The field of leadership is written typically by and for a mainstream, masculine audience. To this end, women and African Americans are “othered” in this discourse. This chapter examines the experiences of four African American female scholars in programs of educational leadership/administration.

In this chapter, we explore how our backgrounds as mixed-heritage Latinas influence our work as junior faculty members at a four-year public Hispanic-serving institution (HSI). Drawing on the conceptual lens of intersectionality, we address the question: how do our multiple social identities affect our identity development and socialization as faculty members?

As part of a critical mass of junior Latina scholars studying educational issues pertinent to the Latina community, we build a sense of community in what can be an isolated environment for women faculty of color. Using our own examples, we examine how two faculty members who might be considered “outsiders within” the Latina/o community draw on their Latinidad as a source of strength to employ their academic work in advancing social justice for Latina/os. Our identities have influenced us to take into account multiple social categories and social contexts in the study of educational phenomena. Serving as faculty within the institutional context of an HSI has distinctively influenced our socialization as new faculty.

We believe that this examination has implications for understanding how people can build cross-cultural collaborations and identify productively with communities that may not necessarily recognize them as “authentic.” Our exploration also offers insights for building a more inclusive academy, particularly for junior scholars from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Based on the themes identified in this research, we draw recommendations for university personnel interested in the recruitment and retention of Latina junior faculty. More broadly, this research has implications for developing support systems for faculty members who have been historically underrepresented in their fields and those who study marginalized populations.

This chapter contextualizes the experiences of Chicana academics of the affirmative-action generation within a framework of collective trauma. It draws from interviews of 17 Chicanas who attended UC Berkeley's doctoral programs between 1967 and 1979, an era characterized by strife and civil rights mobilizations in higher education. As members of a “political generation,” women who began their graduate schooling years during this period reported numerous conflicts negotiating the culture of their respective departments, working with faculty, and handling dynamics within their own Chicana/o support group. The chapter illustrates the ways in which Chicanas experienced and responded to cultural trauma induced by the challenge of entering the highly politicized environment of graduate school. For those women who entered the professoriate, their responses to cultural trauma are explored in the context of their roles as faculty and their significance as a “political generation.”

In this second decade of the 21st century, Hispanic women in academia continue to lag behind their White counterparts; namely, U.S. Department of Education 2003 data revealed that 1.8% Hispanic women occupied administrative or executive posts at doctoral research universities in comparison with 3.7% of White women (Evans & Chun, 2007). Undoubtedly, Hispanic women administrators in higher education represent the faces of gender and ethnicity and, above all, they are instrumental in facilitating career paths for present and future generations of Hispanic students. Toward this end, this review of literature will provide a framework for the discussion of women's leadership practices and administrative roles, in relation to a number of salient factors, which include Hispanics as a group and prevailing ideologies surrounding this ethnic group; differences among the various Hispanic groups including trajectory and language; self-efficacy as a construct and its relationship to ethnicity and culture; women and the hidden curriculum phenomenon; Discourse theory and sociocultural mechanisms.

Research on Latina administrative leadership, education, professional development, employment, and retention is limited in the literature. The majority of researchs on Latinas have been conducted in public schools with superintendents and in community colleges with faculty and administrators. Research shows that there are statistically fewer Latina faculty and administrators in higher education than other female ethnic minorities (de los Santos & Vega, 2008). The chapter focuses on Latina presidents and chancellors at Hispanic-serving institutions in the United States excluding Puerto Rico.

In 1992, women presidents led 10 of 28 (36%) AIHEC member colleges (Ambler, 1992). In the intervening years, that number has grown; currently, 16 (48%) of the 33 American Higher Education Consortium regular member universities and colleges are led by women (AIHEC, 2010). Leadership in indigenous education is congruent with the role of woman as caregiver and nurturer, and barriers that prevent women from assuming leadership positions do not seem to be as prevalent in tribal institutions as in mainstream institutions. Tribal college leadership demonstrates commitment to the values of open access, diversity, and inclusiveness.

Tribal colleges have a common mission of restoring and preserving tribal culture and language; culture defines the purpose, process, and product. Tribal critical race theory (TribalCrit) may provide a foundation for understanding leadership because it “emphasizes the importance of tribal philosophies, beliefs, customs, traditions, and visions for the future” (Brayboy, 2005, p. 437). This chapter provides a perspective of the role of women in American Indian tribal college leadership, and begins with foundational information on tribal colleges and AIHEC as well as a brief review of leadership theory. TribalCrit frames indigenous education and tribal college leadership; storytelling provides the vehicle to relay precepts of indigenous leadership through the female voices of four tribal college leaders.

This chapter explores the personal experiences of the author as an American Indian woman working as a faculty member at a research university. The author identifies three conceptualized themes that inform her work: identity, mentorship, and research. These three themes are discussed as a catalyst for the ways in which research culture may shift in the twenty-first century university.

There is a paucity of research on Asian American women's progress in higher education as faculty. This chapter contextualizes Asian American women as “Other” faculty who because of their race, gender, and presumed “foreigner” background are not seen as normal faculty. In disrupting traditional student–faculty relations where White males are considered normal and hold positions of power, Asian American women as women faculty of color are subject to being contested in the classroom. I examine here their classroom experiences with attention to student resistance and faculty agency through critical feminist, race, and intersectionality frameworks.

The study is based on a secondary data analysis of qualitative studies on Asian American women's classroom experiences in predominantly White institutions. It finds that students of all racial/ethnic and gender backgrounds may resist their faculty role, oftentimes through uncivil behaviors. Students hold racial, gender, and ethnocentric stereotypes and biases of their teaching capabilities and course offerings. Teaching race–gender–class–nation courses can contribute to lower or mixed course evaluations. In claiming their rightful place, Asian American women faculty seek to make a difference through student-centered learning, innovative pedagogy, and new curricula that prepare students for a diverse and global society. They demonstrate their authenticity, authority, and agency in the ways they navigate challenging classroom situations and serve as role models for all students and faculty.

Given the increasing numbers of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) college students, it is critical to have a diverse group of faculty, staff, administrators, and student affairs professionals who are social justice minded and multiculturally competent to address their needs (Maramba, 2008b; Pope, Reynolds, & Mueller, 2004). However, higher education institutions are still faced with the challenge of increasing the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity at these professional levels. AAPIs are one such population whose representation in the field of student affairs administration is severely lacking. The purpose of this chapter is to acquire a better understanding of the AAPI women in the profession of student affairs administration.

The authors in Women of Color in Higher Education: Turbulent Past, Promising Future did an excellent job of addressing critical issues facing female faculty and administrators of color in the academic world, including African American, Hispanic American, Native American, and Asian American women by using diverse methodologies and frameworks. The stories and narratives shared were powerful and touching. They also were effective at addressing the history and experiences of women of color in higher education. Reading this book caused me to reflect on my own experiences as well as those of other women of color in higher education. The authors in this book covered a multitude of issues including racism; hostile environments; classism; sexism; excessive advising with both majority and minority students; lack of institutional mentoring and support; lack of collaborative writing and publishing opportunities; needing to go above and beyond the call of duty; cultural trauma; marginalization; prejudice and discrimination; alienation; harassment; oppression; and student classroom resistance and incivilities. Women from these groups are survivors who have dealt with these challenges for generations. In spite of their differences, they have remained strong because they have repeatedly faced major issues.

Jean Lau Chin, Ed.D., ABPP, is professor at Adelphi University in New York. She has held leadership positions as dean, Adelphi University; Systemwide Dean, California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University; President, CEO Services; executive director, South Cove Community Health Center; and codirector, Thom Child Guidance Clinic. Her work on diversity, leadership, and women's issues has been extensive including a recent Special Issue on Diversity and Leadership in the American Psychologist. Among her many awards for her work is Distinguished Leadership in Education, Organization of Chinese Americans, Long Island.

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Diversity in Higher Education
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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