Senior-level Leadership in Higher Education: The Latina Experience

Lisa Eiden-Dillow 1 * , Neil Best 2

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp. 93-107

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The Latinx student population has emerged as the fastest-growing population in the United States, yet education attainment lags (American Council on Education, 2019; Flink, 2018; Vela et al., 2016). With many Latinx students in higher education institutions, the administration does not reflect the student demographics. Latinas account for a small population of female leaders, adding to the increase in tokenism. Alternative research supports the positive impact of mentor programs and increased tokenism of Latinas resulting from the low number of Latinas in senior-level positions. A qualitative study focused on gaining knowledge from senior-level Latinas' lived experiences provided an opportunity to actively review, interpret, and connect themes from their journeys. Interestingly, the Latina leaders highlighted similar experiences while uncovering the opportunity for additional research. This study revealed the inequities Latinas face due to the low representation in senior-level leadership, implying that increasing leadership diversity is essential. The study uncovered the notion that universities should consider working to change system and process inequities rather than focusing on changing the individual. An additional opportunity for future work is examining the definition of Hispanic-serving Institution (HSI) and determine whether increasing the diversity of leadership could improve the overall performance and retention of Latinx students.

Keywords: Latina leadership, diversity, system inequities, tokenism, intersectionality.