Prepating Latinas for the community college presidency
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With the impending retirements of community college presidents hired during the rapid growth of the 1960s, consideration is imperative regarding how leadership vacancies will be filled. The turnover in leadership occurs at a time of increasing diversity in student enrollments; this gap is in contrast to the primarily homogeneous composition of current leadership. Although women comprise the majority of students and Latino enrollment is growing, the representation of Latinas in community college presidencies is woefully small. Without strategic intervention, the challenge of reflecting diversity at all levels of community colleges will grow in magnitude. The intersection of a changing student body and projected retirements present an opportunity to diversify leadership at the community college. The primary purpose of this research was to learn from Latina community college presidents about the conditions that influenced their ascension to the presidency. The conditions and experiences examined were (a) influences that Latina community college presidents identified as having the most impact on personal career success, (b) strategies Latinas have employed to overcome barriers or challenges on the pathway to the presidency, and (c) the organizational climate and practices within community colleges that either hinder or support Latinas. The convergence of these conditions was analyzed to determine effective strategies to support Latinas in achieving leadership roles. This study utilized mixed methods for data collection, both qualitative and quantitative. Data sources included interviews with 13 Latina community college presidents. Further, 22 participants completed questionnaires that provided demographic information. The following themes emerged from the findings: personal context, professional preparation, professional context, challenges and the leadership pipeline. In spite of the gains made by women in higher education and the increase of Hispanic students entering post secondary education, equity in the representation of Latinas in higher education at the administrative ranks has not yet been achieved. The findings suggests that trustees played a critical role in promoting diversity as the majority of the boards that hired the presidents in this study included representation from women and other minority groups. Moreover, although systemic barrier exist the Latinas presidents in this study refused to allow bias to prevent them from succeeding. Recommendations for further studies and implications for developing Latinas to gain access to the leadership pipeline were discussed in the findings.