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Exploring the Path of Latina Community College Presidents Navigating the Labyrinth

Maria Garcia Vazquez, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Although Latinos make up the largest racial and ethnic group within the student population in the California Community College System (Community College League of California, 2014), this demographic is not similarly represented in the president/CEO positions among these institutions. The California Community College is the largest system of higher education in the nation, and Hispanics (39%) are the largest racial and ethnic group within the student population (CCLC, 2014). Yet, only 14% of California Community College CEOs are Hispanic (CCLC, 2013-2014). Latina women are even further underrepresented. Cook & Cordova (2006) reported that in 2003 a total of 7,006 Hispanic individuals were full-time administrators at institutions of higher education in the U.S., or 3.9% of the total 178,443. During the same year, a total of 91 Latinos were presidents or CEOs of institutions of higher education in the country; 66 were male and 25 were female. Forty-eight of the Hispanic presidents or CEOs served in community colleges; 33 were male and only 15 were female. This study expanded understanding and research of the factors contributing to the disproportionate number of Latinas in presidential roles as compared to Latinas in the student, faculty, and administrative populations within the California Community College System. This dissertation utilized a phenomenological approach to explore the path taken by four Latinas who had become community college presidents/CEOs in California. The study used the concept of the labyrinth Eagly and Carli (2007) to explore the twists and turns women navigated on their way to presidency. Latinas have to be capable and assertive to manage difficult situations while maintaining a harmonious environment within their organizations and among subordinates. Participants reported being involved in their institutions and communities, asking for help, and finding mentors. All participants worried and struggled with guilt about the sacrifice of family to serve their jobs. All found ways to integrate their family activities with their careers. The women demonstrated confidence in self and being prepared when the next opportunity revealed itself.

Subject Area

Educational leadership

Recommended Citation

Vazquez, Maria Garcia, "Exploring the Path of Latina Community College Presidents Navigating the Labyrinth" (2017). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10683437.