The statistics on Latinas who hold positions as professors and leaders in higher education are grim. Although there are more Latinas going to college, only 1% of professors in the U.S. are Latina. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of 4 Latina professors to learn about their journeys to secure positions as professors at a major university in Southern California. The researcher desired to gain insight into Latinas who have overcome the odds. The goal was to determine if there were any common themes, experiences, or contributing factors in these women's journeys, as well as understanding what it is like to be such a small minority within academia. The research consisted of 2 parts. First, the professors completed the Leadership Practice Inventory (LPI) self-assessment. This instrument was used to determine the leadership behaviors these women exhibited and identify possible commonalities. Second was an in-depth semistructured interview, which used a 13-question interview protocol. Its purpose was to capture an essence of the professors' lived experiences as they progressed to secure professor leadership positions. The study reveals that the women demonstrated exemplary leadership practices. They each placed high value on all 5 of the leadership behaviors outlined by Kouses and Posner: model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart. In addition, they largely attributed their success to the role of mentors. Several indicated they attended and participated in activities and functions promoting minority issues, and, although rewarding, it required extra time and effort, which was not valued by their university, and this work detracted from activities more closely associated with achieving tenure. The other concern pertained to the lack of mentors once they achieved professorships to help with moving up within higher ranks of academia. The researcher recommends that universities and colleges continue to extend mentor programs to faculty members, especially to those interested in advancing. In addition, universities should also consider extra service work worthwhile and considered attributes among tenure committees. Additional recommendations for strategies for success for individuals are also made.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Hispanic American women -- Education

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Rosensitto, Michelle;