How Asian American Women Perceive and Move Toward Leadership Roles in Community Colleges: A Study of Insider Counter Narratives
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Asian American women are often misunderstood and disfranchised due to stereotypes and microaggressions, and they are frequently excluded from the mainstream leadership agenda in higher education discourse. Using critical race feminism (CRF) as a conceptual framework, my qualitative research examined 11 Asian American women's career movements and leadership experiences in community colleges in Washington State. The study focused on the participants' counter narratives in regard to campus climate, microaggressions, mentoring, and goals and professional advancement. As a way to combat microaggressions in a chilly climate where they work, microresistance was also investigated. My findings showed that all participants faced complex realities of multiple marginalities, each being both "a woman" and "Asian American of color." Under the conditions of such intersectionality, the participants were quick to identify the everyday microaggressions they encountered. Some of them were not so "micro," but "macro," and illustrated their icy climate in countless instances. However, the participants did not just passively endure these microaggressions. Rather, they proactively combated their invisibleness and inequalities through intentionally applying microresistances. Such efforts became forms of empowerment, collaboration, and resistance against institutional oppression, and ultimately became alternative ways of leading as well as of microresistance. Mentoring relationships were also applied as a form of microresistance. Despite such ongoing effort, however, the participants' encounters with numerous and accumulative microaggressions often solidified as a pattern of unequal power and created a more difficult space for them to plan, anticipate, and pursue meaningful leadership positions. Yet, the study illuminated frequently overlooked activisms and microresistances by Asian American women, as well as their alternative ways of leading. The participants practiced leadership by: (1) being intentional, collaborative, and relational; (2) striving for transformative cultural competency; (3) mentoring and empowering others as role models; (4) being both teachers and learners; and (5) balancing work and life.
- Education - Seattle