Asian American Women in the Academy: Multiple Success Case Study of their Leadership Labyrinths and Practices

Dao Nguyen 1 *

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp. 14-44

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This paper sheds light on academic leadership pathways and practices of Asian American women (AAW) in higher education in the United States (U.S.) under intersectionality of social and institutional identities/elements. The preliminary intersection model of these identities/elements is the ultimate outcome of the paper. The paper is crystalized from an empirical study founded on intersectionality concept and leadership theories in general, and on established knowledge base of AAW and leadership in particular. The multiple case study method (MCSM) and success case method (SCM) were employed in combination to examine four AAW cases, which were purposively selected from four 4-year-universities in California and Pennsylvania. The data source primarily came from in-depth semi-structured interviews. The data analysis on NVivo 12 revealed that AAW’s leadership pathways and practices were influenced and shaped by social identities of individuals (gender, race/ethnicity, class, and culture), and institutional cultures (tangible and intangible). Religion and female role models in family, graduate study, and workplace were found as additive elements impacting AAW’s leadership experiences. These multiple identities and elements intersected with each other in different ways to feature lived experiences of AAW in academic leadership. The study responded to recent calls for applying incorporation approach of leadership and diversity in research on leadership. It also supported the existing literature on leadership pipelines and experiences of AAW in the academy. The research was among few qualitative studies in the AAW leadership scholarship using the NVivo program in data management, analysis, and presentation. The preliminary intersection model of social and institutional identities/elements influencing and shaping AAW’s leadership in the academy could imply direction for further study on AAW and leadership not only in academe but also in other areas.

Keywords: Asian American Women, Leadership Labyrinth, Multiple Success Case Study, Preliminary Intersection Model of Social and Institutional Identities/Elements.