Interlocking Systems of Oppression: Women Navigating Higher Education Leadership

Interlocking Systems of Oppression: Women Navigating Higher Education Leadership

Marissiko M. Wheaton (University of Southern California, USA) and Adrianna Kezar (University of Southern California, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7056-1.ch005

Abstract

Women in higher education face many challenges as they navigate senior-level administrative positions on college campuses. Much of the existing research on women's leadership in higher education does not highlight the ways in which women of varying overlapping identities navigate leadership uniquely. In this chapter, the authors discuss the need for the theories of intersectionality and positionality, which foreground the intersection of many identities and further contextualize them within systems of power. Through an analysis of existing empirical work, this chapter draws attention to tools and strategies that can be learned from women of multiple oppressed identities and positions of leadership.
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Single Axis Of Oppression

Identity is often understood from a singular viewpoint, particularly within explorations of women’s leadership in higher education literature. Due to the complexity of studying multiple social identities, early research tended to isolate and focus on a single dimension of identity - gender, race, social class or sexual orientation. We review this earlier research to demonstrate some of the salient experiences that emerge from these studies. The studies shed light on particular challenges (e.g. visibility of race, homophobia) and opportunities (e.g. alliance with other woman of color, invisibility of sexual orientation) experienced by particular identity features. These studies provide a backdrop and foundation for understanding the importance of multiple identities being explored simultaneously.

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