Date of Conferral







Nancy S. Bostain


A lack of diversity exists in higher education leadership, particularly with Hispanic/Latina women. Differences in cultural backgrounds play a role when leaders who are mostly White consider individuals of other ethnicities for promotion. In 2016, only 3% of all higher education leadership positions were held by Hispanics/Latinos and even a smaller percentage were women. Identifying the challenges Hispanic/Latino women face in competing for leadership roles in higher education is needed to understand the factors needed to be overcome to succeed. A phenomenological qualitative study was conducted with 13 participants to explore how Hispanic/Latina women perceive the higher education work environment regarding their ability to advance and apply this information in supporting their ascension into leadership. Participants included women in higher education leadership positions who self-describe as being Hispanic/Latina. Data analysis was conducted using the modified Van Kaam method and supported by NVivo Software. The interview results indicated Hispanic/Latina women face challenges and experience barriers when ascending into leadership roles. In addition, very few Hispanic/Latinas hold these roles and lack mentors and role models. Furthermore, those who are foreign born experience greater barriers and having an accent is their greatest challenge. Most participants identified themselves as being collectivist and believe that their background and culture plays a role in being considered for ascension in higher education leadership positions. The findings of this study contribute to positive social change by providing insights to higher education administration on the challenges Hispanic/Latina women may face who aspire to ascend into leadership roles.