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“Cuidando Nuestra Casa”: Implications for Practice and Leadership

While none of these three departments studied specifically spoke to strategies for recruiting Latinas into STEM departments, the three strategies that arose are applicable for recruiting (and retaining) Latina faculty, based on the literature previously discussed. With a high desire for a sense of “home,” and a deep value for familia for Latinxs, it is fair to believe that strategies for creating a positive departmental climate that can be perceived would be a definite draw for Latina faculty to STEM. Furthermore, these strategies are pivotal for enhancing the organizational resilience necessary for innovation and thriving to transpire. Many of us have chosen familia as pillars of our success in our educational pipeline, and it is reasonable to assume that having the opportunity to sense a climate where chosen familia can be identified would be critical for successful recruitment, hiring, and retention of Latina faculty' in STEM, especially in departments where they may be the only one.

Therefore, as learned from the three departments studied (AS, chemistry, and physics), departments should work intentionally on fostering a warm climate as opposed to a chilly climate (Turner et al., 1999) for their faculty'. This warm climate would stop the revolving door sy'ndrome (Moreno et al., 2006) and signal to prospective faculty that this could be a place where they may also be successful. Thus, the following three recommendations are highly encouraged for STEM department chairs working to recruit and hire more Latina faculty':

  • 1. Intentionally promote inclusion on a daily basis. This requires a thorough review of current policies and practices in place, most prominently for hiring and tenure and promotion. It also requires the critical examination of structural signals that can be altered or added, to signal that all are welcome.
  • 2. Empower the minoritized by enhancing resilience. This requires critical reflection regarding power structures within the departments in order to understand where power lies, and who holds the most powerful voices. Find strategies to bring more equity and integration of all voices. Also, increase implicit and explicit signals throughout locations and events that signal work—life balance and the ability to be an intersectional scholar—with multiple identities, such as being a Latina woman in STEM.
  • 3. Clearly signal support structures that are evident during the recruitment and hiring process. This requires an examination of processes and individuals involved in the recruitment and hiring process and finding strategies to signal that chosen familia can be found in the department, collaborative departments, or the university community. With familia as a central value to Ltitiuidad, ensuring that community and support are authentically embedded throughout the structures of the department is critical.

Thus, success in hiring Latina faculty into STEM departments is achievable. It is a matter of focusing internally on the organizational climate of the department and allowing that warm climate to serve as the self-perpetuating engine for recruitment, and as a foundation for the organizational resilience of their casa.

Notes

  • 1. Although gender is fluid and non-binary (Butler, 1990; Linstead & Pullen, 2006), unfortunately national data are gathered binary measures. Thus, the data reported in this chapter align with these national reporting practices.
  • 2. Henceforth, all names (inclusive of campus, departments/units, participants, programs, etc.) are reported via pseudonyms in an effort to maintain confidentiality.
  • 3. For further details on the full study’s research design and methodology, please see “Untying Our Hands”: A Mixed Methods Study of Strengths-Based Approaches to Faculty Recruitment and Hiring Practices in STEM for Equity (Kamimura, 2019). The full study provides details regarding participant selection, coding processes, etc.
 
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