Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


William Benet


AbstractHispanics in Illinois make up 17.5 % of the population yet are disproportionately represented in state government, composing only 6.5 % of the workforce. Unequal representation deprives ethnic and underserved groups of participating in program and policy decisions that provide communities opportunities. Hispanic leaders have expressed their concerns and dissatisfaction to state legislators and actively requested equity in the state’s workforce. However, there were no studies that examined the perceptions of Hispanic community leaders in Illinois regarding solutions to address this disparity. To address this gap, a qualitative study using Benet’s polarities of democracy as the theoretical framework was conducted. Purposeful sampling was used to select eight participants who were Hispanic leaders of community organizations and who had spent years advocating for parity in the state’s hiring practices. Interview questions asked for their perceptions on barriers to or facilitators of hiring more Hispanics for Illinois state government. Following data coding, four themes emerged from the data analysis: Inequity, the absence of inclusion, the absence of outreach, and bias. The results indicated that these community leaders perceived the state had a bias and had made insufficient efforts to include hiring more Hispanics in state government. The findings could lead to positive social change by providing state leaders with insight to eliminate the significant racial gap in Latino representation.