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“Cuida Tu Casa Y Deja La Ajena”: Focusing on Retention as a Self-Perpetuating Engine for Recruiting Latina Faculty in STEM

Much like the consejos (advice) that I would often receive from my abuelitas (grandmothers) and tias (aunts) when I would seek their advice, the consejo in this chapter centers on a diclto (saying). Often when we are struggling, we look for external answers and solutions. However, as my familia (family) always reminds me, our greatest strength comes from within, and so do our best solutions. Therefore, while we can learn from the achievement of others, one of the most pivotal strategies for embracing the challenge of recruiting, hiring, and retaining Latina faculty, especially within STEM, requires that we “cuida tu casa у deja la ajena” (take care of your own “home” and let others be). In similar ways to the internal strength that dwells within my familia, STEM departments focusing internally will enhance the organizational resilience upon which their casa will thrive.

National Landscape: The State of Latina STEM Faculty in the United States

As indicated in previous chapters, the demographics of our nation have been rapidly shifting. One of the largest noted shifts has been within the Latinx community, with remarkable growth from 4.5% of the national population in 1970 to 16.3% in 2010 (Nunez, Hurtado, & Calderon Galdeano, 2015), and now with a projected leap to 30% of US residents by 2050 (Saenz, 2010). While this estimation has been anticipated by the educational community and the nation at large, the proportions of Latinx students pursuing and achieving bachelors degrees after six years of first-time college enrollment is still only at approximately 7% (Gandara & Contreras, 2009). As has been noted in previous chapters, more Latinx students are entering college, but many are not making it out successfully.

While the funnel narrows significantly with such small proportions of Latinx students attaining a bachelors degree, if we truly aim to understand how to infuse the professoriate, we must consider the critical junction between the doctorate and academic positions (i.e., assistant professor, associate professor, professor, instructor). In 2013, according to the National Science Foundation, of all US doctoral graduates (N=52,76)0) only 4% identified as Hispanic/Latinx. When considering gender, the data indicate that 37.8% of all science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) doctorates were attained by females,1 but only 5% of all female doctoral recipients (n=l,225) were Latina (NSF, 2013). Therefore, we begin to see how the intersectionality of race/ethnicity and gender truly narrows the pool of those Latinas eligible for faculty positions upon graduation.

Nationally, the 2013 landscape on opportunities for full-time faculty positions (tenure and tenure track) shows that females hold 26.9% of these positions, while faculty of color only hold 9.2% of equivalent positions (NSF, 2014). Subsequently, Latinx faculty are extremely underrepresented in academia by occupying merely 2.3% of all full-time faculty positions in all disciplines (NSF, 2014). The inequities in the professoriate range by discipline; however, they are collectively most pronounced in STEM. According to the National Science Foundation, in 2013 universities and 4-year colleges hired 354,000 faculty' (i.e., teaching, research, and adjunct faculty) in STEM programs. Of these faculty, 34% were women, and only' 9.6% of these positions were occupied by faculty of color. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Latinx faculty comprised a mere 1.3% of all STEM faculty in 2003 (NCES, 2008).

Furthermore, when these data are disaggregated by position, the inequities increase for part-time faculty. For instance, 42% of women in academia are part-time faculty, which represent the least stable positions in the professoriate (NSF, 2013). Moreover, in STEM, women are about 6% less likely to be hired into a faculty position than in other academic fields, while STEM faculty of color are hired at a nearly 10% lower rate than in other disciplinary fields (NSF, 2013). Therefore, to say' that we have work to do is an understatement. Although the current national landscape looks bleak for Latina STEM faculty', there are glimmers of hope in various departments and programs across the United States that are working intentionally to open the doors to their casas. The thematic findings presented in the latter half of this chapter shed light on promising strategies for recruiting and hiring women faculty and faculty of color in STEM, with deep implications for Latina STEM faculty.

Understanding the Gatekeeper: The Process Between the Doctorate and the Professoriate

In an attempt to better understand the persisting inequities in the professoriate, several rationales have been considered in the extant literature on minoritized faculty', including the shallow pool of diverse candidates for faculty positions (Kayes, 2006; Turner, 2002), unconscious bias impacting departmental processes including hiring and promotion and tenure (Smith,

2000; Stewart, Malley, & LaVaque-Manty, 2010; Turner, 2002; Turner, Gonzalez, & Wood, 2008), and attrition of minoritized faculty (Moreno, Smith, Clayton-Pedersen, Parker, & Teraguchi, 2006). However, various studies have proven that the lack of qualified diversified applicants is indeed a myth, and rather an excuse for biases at play (Olivas, 1988; Smith, 2000; Turner, Myers, & Creswell, 1999). Therefore, focusing on the experiences of minoritized faculty' (i.e., women and faculty of color) will provide the strongest path toward a more equitable future.

 
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