Overcoming Barriers

Overcoming Barriers

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3763-3.ch004
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After a childhood of limited educational opportunities, lack of proportional representation, along with social stigmas in addition to the institutional barriers, Latinas and Hispanic women who overcame them all to acquire a professional degree still have to deal with the lack of recruitment, retention, and opportunities for promotion in employment within higher educational institutions. Because of the reality of skin color, heavy accent, and the historical White male middle class, institutions throughout the social system have created barriers for Hispanic women/Latinas, barriers that continue to prevent them from holding a full-time or attaining a tenured position in academe. The following sections will describe each of the barriers that impede Hispanic women in their advancement in educational institutions. The author will address how an invisible barrier, or glass ceiling, concrete ceiling or concrete wall, labyrinth, sticky floor, gated community, female androgynous behavior, and Jezebel stereotypes prevent women from achieving leadership positions in the academic profession—although a few do make it. For those who do become leaders, the questions become, “How did they do it?” “What barriers did they overcome and what supports enabled them to succeed?”
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Glass Ceiling

Carol Hymowitz and Timothy Schellhardt, journalists from the Wall Street Journal introduced the glass ceiling concept in 1986. By 2007, Eagly and Carli had utilized the concept of the glass ceiling in reference to the experience of “women who rose steadily through the ranks” and finally “crashed into an invisible barrier” (p. 4). Lockwood (2004) noted that the concept of the glass ceiling applies to racial and ethnic minorities as well as to men who experience invisible attitudinal barriers to advancement. Weyer (2006) agreed: the “glass ceiling constitutes an invisible organizational or perceptual barrier for women and minority groups, preventing them from moving up” (p. 442). Johnson (2017) explains that

the glass ceiling is a long-standing metaphor for the intangible systemic barriers that prevent women from obtaining senior-level positions. Despite the number of female graduates available for leadership positions, women do not hold associate professor or full professor positions at the same rate as their male peers. The data show that women are not ascending to leadership roles, given that they hold a greater share of the entry-level, service, and teaching-only positions than their male counterparts. This is true for all women when looking across degree- granting postsecondary institutions; the trend is exacerbated for women of color. (p. 4)

The glass ceiling may be viewed as an invisible barrier; a barrier that continues to impede professional advancement for women (Bolman & Deal, 2013; Eagly & Carli, 2007; Northouse, 2020). As difficult a barrier as the glass ceiling is, many women first have to overcome a number of earlier obstacles before they even reach high enough to crash into the glass ceiling, as pointed out by Bolman and Deal (2013). It seems rather interesting to find ways for oppressed people to become more successful members of a system while some might believe the system is destructive of human values. Why does anyone want a job that will take them away from their families, their communities, and cause them to ignore their other talents? Why does a corporation seem attractive to an individual? Why do not men and women work in their communities to make them more humane, more friendly, less tied to money? Communities are composed of musicians, artists, and poets. People have skills that will benefit our neighbors; people have inner talents that will make this world better. Education should be used to enrich lives, not make our employers rich. What happens to our souls when we sell out and agree to work for money? Many people question capitalism and a corporate world that also oppresses men. Machismo means they have had to amputate most of their emotions and personal preferences (Nuñez et al, 2016).

The glass-ceiling is a persistent barrier within the academic environment that creates and supports (1) traditional gender roles/puros hombres, (2) preferential treatment of male candidates/primero los caballeros, (3) structures that are unsupportive of family-related career breaks/no hay apoyo, and (4) a lack of effective mentors who would be ideally placed to advocate for female academics’ ambitions/ mujeres que aboguen (Brown, Crampton, Finn, & Morgan, 2020). Female leaders confront systematic stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. Women and specially Latinas are considered stigmatized in the leadership setting since there is a belief they come from a low status, are powerless, and do not know how to lead others; thus they are evaluated less favorably than their white colleagues.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sticky Floors: Represents the false assumptions and hidden behaviors that mire women down over the course of their careers. These conditions exist because people currently in power positions believe women cannot “achieve a healthy work-life balance in the highest-level jobs” (Shambaugh, 2008, p. xiv).

Androgynous Personality: A personality style in which an individual displays both stereotypical masculine and stereotypical feminine psychological characteristics (e.g., both assertiveness and sensitivity) (APA, 2020).

Welfare Queen: Which is connected to images of Black women as breeders dating back to slavery. The welfare queen is an image of an uneducated, poor, single Black woman who does not want to work but has many children in order to take advantage of public assistance (Rosenthal & Lobel, 2016, p. 4).

Hypermasculinity: Sociological term denoting exaggerated forms of masculinity, virility, and physicality. Scholars have suggested that there are three distinct characteristics associated with the hypermasculine personality: (1) the view of violence as manly, (2) the perception of danger as exciting and sensational, and (3) callous behavior toward women and a regard toward emotional displays as feminine (Craig, 2020).

Androcentrism: Androcentrism is the evaluation of individuals and cultures based on male perspectives, standards, and values. The term refers to a male-centered worldview which does not necessarily present explicitly negative views of women and girls, but positions men and boys as representative of the human condition or experience and women and girls as diverging from the human condition. It is a complex, subtle, and often unacknowledged form of sexism, existing on a continuum which includes misogyny and patriarchal attitudes, but it is also informed by patriarchal cultures in which men are granted more power and influence, and thus the right to evaluate and interpret individuals and cultures. Androcentrism exists in all fields of study and cultural expressions, including the arts, sciences, medicine, law, fine arts, and media (Hibbs, 2020).

Vixen: A sexually attractive woman (Merriam-Webster, 2020).

Mammy: The mammy archetype is the image of an unattractive Black mother who is strong and content in her caregiving role for many children, in the service of White slave owners or White employers (Rosenthal & Lobel, 2016, p. 4).

Sexism: Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex (Oxford, 2020).

Latina: In the United States it is a woman or a girl of Latin American origin or descent (Oxford, 2020).

Ethno-National Femininity: Actively seeks to capitalize on ethno-national stereotypes (Cano, 2018).

Emotional Intelligence: The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

Tropicalism: Tropicalism erases specificity and homogenizes all that is identified as Latin and Latina/o. Under the trope of tropicalism, attributes such as bright colors, rhythmic music, and brown or olive skin comprise some of the most enduring stereotypes about Latina/os, a stereotype best embodied by the excesses of … hypersexualization (Molina Guzmán & Valdivia, 2004, p. 211).

Brown: In this book this term is to describe Hispanic women or Latinas who are Spanish speaking and/or who descend from any Spanish-speaking country, who are facing barriers within higher education organizations because of racial, gender, language, color, appearance, and other negative assumptions preventing them from advancing educationally and professionally.

Social Capital: Social capital is a positive product of human interaction. The positive outcome may be tangible or intangible and may include useful information, innovative ideas, and future opportunities. In business terms, social capital is the contribution to an organization's success that can be attributed to personal relationships and networks, both within the organization and outside of it. The term social capital is also sometimes used to describe the personal relationships within a company that help build trust and respect among employees, leading to enhanced company performance (Kenton, 2019).

Adaptation: A change in structure, function, or behavior by which a species or individual improves its chance of survival in a specific environment (Dictionary, 2020).

Double Discrimination: Is a dual challenge of discrimination against Latinas because they are women and members of an ethnic minority group (Rodriguez, 2000).

Misogyny: May be distinguished from the closely related word sexism which signifies discrimination based on sex (although it most frequently refers to discrimination against women) and also carries the meaning “behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex” (Merriam-Webster, 2020).

Barrier: Obstacle that prevents movement or access (Oxford, 2020).

Glass Ceiling: The glass ceiling metaphor represents unseen and unsanctioned barriers, in an ostensibly nondiscriminatory organization, that prevent women from securing top leadership roles. These barriers preventing women from progressing into top leadership roles are even found in female-dominated occupations, professions where men ride a glass escalator up to the top positions (Hoyt, 2010, p.485). Participants on this study used the words glass ceiling to define the barriers they faced based on their ethnicity, appearance, gender, and age.

Myth: An exaggerated or idealized conception of a person or thing (Oxford, 2020).

Gender Identity: One’s self-identification as male or female. Although the dominant approach in psychology for many years had been to regard gender identity as residing in individuals, the important influence of societal structures, cultural expectations, and personal interactions in its development is now recognized as well. Significant evidence now exists to support the conceptualization of gender identity as influenced by both environmental and biological factors (APA, 2020).

Ageism: Prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person's age (Oxford, 2020).

Sapphire: The sapphire (or “matriarch”) archetype is the image of an aggressive, dominating, angry, emasculating Black woman (Rosenthal & Lobel, 2016, p. 4).

Integration: In this chapter integration is part of the student’s adaptation into school and society.

Social Cognition: In approach to stereotypes, a significant body of psychological research on beliefs about gender, race, age, and political groups finds that stereotypes broadly reflect reality but display biases. Social psychologists have explored the extent to which stereotypes exaggerate real differences, thus possessing a kernel of truth. Evidence on exaggeration varies by domain (Bordo, Coffman, Gennaioli, Schleifer, 2016).

Agentic Orientation: An emphasis on achieving, doing, succeeding, and making one’s own mark in the world, which may be expressed through such traits as competitiveness and self-focus.

Structural Domain Power: A constellation of organized practices in employment, government, education, law, business, and housing that work to maintain an unequal an unjust distribution of social resources. Unlike bias and prejudice, which are characteristics of individuals, the structural domain of power operates through the laws and policies of social institutions (Collins, 2009).

Commodification: In capitalist political economies, land, products, services, and ideas are assigned economic values and are bought and sold in marketplaces as commodities (Collins, 2009).

Syndrome: A set of symptoms and signs that are usually due to a single cause (or set of related causes) and together indicate a particular physical or mental disease or disorder (APA, 2020). The American principle of government by consent is incompatible with continuing to deny voting rights to the nearly 4 million Americans living in U.S. territories (Equally American, 2020, p. 1).

Erotism: The arousal of or the attempt to arouse sexual feeling by means of suggestion, symbolism, or allusion. Eroticize is to make erotic (Merriam-Webster, 2020).

Eurocentrism: An ideology that presents the ideas and experiences of Whites as normal, normative, and ideal. Also known as White racism or White supremacy (Collins, 2009).

Leadership: Is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal (Northouse, 2016, p.5).

Gender Role: The pattern of behavior, personality traits, and attitudes that define masculinity or femininity in a particular culture. It frequently is considered the external manifestation of the internalized gender identity, although the two are not necessarily consistent with one another (APA, 2020).

Affirmative Action: In the United States an active effort to improve employment or educational opportunities for members of minority groups and for women. Affirmative action began as a government remedy to the effects of long-standing discrimination against such groups and has consisted of policies, programs, and procedures that give limited preferences to minorities and women in job hiring, admission to institutions of higher education, the awarding of government contracts, and other social benefits. The typical criteria for affirmative action are race, disability, gender, ethnic origin, and age. Affirmative action was initiated by the administration of President Lyndon Johnson (1963–69) in order to improve opportunities for African Americans while civil right legislation was dismantling the legal basis for discrimination. The federal government began to institute affirmative action policies under the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and an executive order in 1965. Businesses receiving federal funds were prohibited from using aptitude tests and other criteria that tended to discriminate against African Americans. Affirmative action programs were monitored by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Subsequently, affirmative action was broadened to cover women and Native Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities and was extended to colleges and universities and state and federal agencies (Britannica, 2020).

Identity: The distinguishing character or personality of an individual (Merriam-Webster, 2020).

Jezebel’s Stereotypes: Black women were implicitly dehumanized to a greater extent than White women, subtly likened to both animals and objects (Anderson, Holland, Heldreth, & Johnson, 2018).

Capitalism: An economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production. Capitalism is typically characterized by extreme distributions of wealth and large differences between the rich and the poor (Collins, 2009).

Preferential Treatment: When better treatment is received than others and have advantage over them (Collins, 2020).

Flamboyant: Tending to attract attention because of their exuberance, confidence, and stylishness, noticeable because brightly colored, highly patterned, or unusual in style (Oxford, 2020).

Essence: In philosophy, the presumed ontological reality at the core of something that makes it what it is and not something else. There have been various philosophical attempts to define the difference between what something necessarily is and what it merely coincidentally is. In psychology, the concept of essence is relevant to discussions of personhood, including questions of human agency and of the self (APA, 2020).

Ideology: A manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture. The integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program (Medical Dictionary, 2020).

Hypersexuality: Also referred as Compulsive Sexual Behavior (CSB) or sexual addiction which is characterized by repetitive and intense preoccupations with sexual fantasies, urges, and behaviors that are distressing to the individual and/or result in psychosocial impairment.

Concrete Ceiling or Concrete Wall: Is preventing career advancement to women of color at higher rate to occupy senior management positions at four-year university institution (Griffith, 2015).

Tokenism: The making of a perfunctory or symbolic gesture that suggests commitment to a practice or standard, particularly by hiring or promoting a single member of a previously excluded group to demonstrate one’s benevolent intentions. For example, an all-White company may hire a token Black employee to give the appearance of organizational parity as opposed to actually eliminating racial inequality in the workplace. Tokenism depends on the prevailing norms, structures, and conceptualizations (e.g., of ideal ingroup and outgroup members) of the cultural context in which it is embedded (APA, 2020).

Intelligence: The ability to derive information, learn from experience, adapt to the environment, understand, and correctly utilize thought and reason.

Hypersexualization: Can refer to girls being depicted or treated as sexual objects. It also means sexuality that is inappropriately imposed on girls through media, marketing or products directed at them that encourages them to act in adult sexual ways (CWHN, 2020).

Agency: An individual or social group’s will to be self-defining and self-determining (Collins, 2009).

Labyrinth: A complicated irregular network of passages or paths in which it is difficult to find one's way (Oxford, 2020). Metaphor that suggests that while women are trying to gain insight into the organizational practices of their institution, they may find that their path twists and turns from one person or committee to another; and it has hidden pockets and sources that no one shares with them (Eagly & Carli, 2007).

Lookism: Construction of a standard for beauty and attractiveness, and judgments made about people on the basis of how well or poorly they meet the standard (Oxford, 2020).

Communal Trait: Such as gentle, sensitive, and nurturing, characteristics associated with caring for other people, however, when women are no longer demonstrating traditional feminine characteristics because they occupy leadership positions, they are regarded negatively, and judged by their appearance. Women who occupy leadership roles are evaluated negatively in interpersonal evaluations, even when they may be evaluated positively in the workplace (Lindburg, 2014, p.16).

Gated Communities: As with gated residential communities, some minorities are always allowed to enter these academic domains–– after all, restrictive covenants are illegal in academia, just as they are in housing markets. However, gated communities are typically less diverse relative to the broader, surrounding community. So too are some areas of the professoriate relative to the number of PhDs granted each year (Hironimus-Wendt & Dedjoe, 2015).

Equal Representation: Nearly 4 million Americans are completely disenfranchised simply because of where they live. More Americans live in the five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands) than live in the five smallest states combined. In fact, the population of the territories is greater than 21 states.

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