Female Minority Educator Perceptions Regarding Issues of Women of Color in Higher Education
Sterling, Teresa Margarite
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Background: Diversity in faculty hiring is an area where the combined consideration of politics, race, and gender could serve to increase diversity. As shown in a report examining hiring and promotion within the University of California System of schools (Lam, 2018), a continued lack of diversity is on par to continue with no foreseeable end in sight. Underrepresentation of women of color is compounded by what is referred to as “diversity fatigue” (Lam, 2018), the added pressure on minority faculty to take on supplemental duties based on cultural and/or racial connectivity with their students. An additional area that requires scrutiny regarding faculty hiring practices is how attitudes such as diversity fatigue, racial predispositions, and stereotypes are perpetuated within systems without question or investigation. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to discover the perceptions of female minority educators in higher education related to their entry and experience as faculty members. Viewpoints on their lived experiences from the hiring process to their daily classroom interactions were investigated. Research Question: What are female minority educators’ perceptions regarding issues of women of color in higher education? Methods: A qualitative case study design bound by location was used to explore participants’ perceptions of issues faced as female, minority educators in university settings. As Creswell and Creswell (2018) note, this type of study is “exploratory” and allows researchers “to listen to participants and build an understanding based on” the information shared by each of them (p.27). Four minority, women faculty participants self-selected based on stated research study criteria. Each is involved in teaching disciplines ranging from student success and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as college faculty in a large Southern university. I conducted initial and follow-up individual interviews lasting from thirty to sixty minutes each and a supplemental focus group meeting for triangulation purposes was conducted. The data collected were transcribed from handwritten notes into an easy to read typed layout. The data were also coded for themes and to determine subsequent follow-up questions for each interview session. This same cohort participated in a concluding focus group interview session and was member checked again allowing for the triangulation of all cumulative interview data. Results: Each of the study participants offered insight into their journey from being job applicants to becoming successfully hired college faculty members. Their feedback indicated that the resources, support and most notably, campus culture needed to get them there were lacking at times. Findings advocate for significant change from the way faculty recruitment and hiring replicates, as quoted by a study participant, an “old boys’ club”, to a system that creates and sustains open and sincere recruitment and hiring practices for college faculty ranks. Conclusion: University campuses faced with addressing diversity among faculty ranks can capitalize on the human resources within their applicant pools. Continuous training from an HR stance and within individual hiring units is needed to set and achieve benchmarks that gauge forward-moving progress. Recommendations from this study are to develop and implement a fair and consistent faculty hiring process that ensures diversity is valued and used as the standard for future onboarding consideration.