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How I Got Over: Critical Moments for Women of Color at a Christian College 2010 International Forum on Christian Higher Education

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Title: How I Got Over: Critical Moments for Women of Color at a Christian College 2010 International Forum on Christian Higher Education


1
How I Got Over Critical Moments for Women of
Color at a Christian College2010 International
Forum on Christian Higher Education
  • Rhae-Ann Booker, PhD
  • Michelle Loyd-Paige, PhD
  • Calvin College Grand Rapids, MI

2
  • The few women of color who manage to enter the
    halls of academe as students, faculty, or
    administrators quickly discover an entrenched and
    finely tuned system of gendered and raced
    privilege, power, and exclusionary practices.
    Learning to navigate the multi-tiered academic
    systems of oppression and pass survival
    strategies along to other women of color is both
    a rite of passage and a badge of honor for
    academic women of color.
  • - Pat
    Washington

3
Overview
  • Women of Color in Higher Ed Administration
  • Defining Critical Moments
  • Our Story
  • Rhae-Anns and Michelles journey to a Christian
    College
  • Special Stressors Faced By Non-Majority Faculty,
    Administrators, and Staff
  • Critical Breakthroughs Coping, Surviving, and
    Thriving
  • What We Wished We Had Known

4
Women of Color in Higher Education
  • Women of color in academic administration
    are a recent phenomenon due to their double
    oppression as women and people of color. Their
    small numbers are intimately tied to American
    history, legal restrictions, and traditional
    customs. Legislation, court orders, and
    executive orders have greatly increased the
    number of minorities in higher education,
    although they are still substantially
    underrepresented in the academy.
  • Women Ph.D.sand to a lesser extent,
    administratorsare growing as a proportion of all
    Ph.D.s, but there will be required the continued
    removal of burdens of sexism, lower salaries, and
    career impediments to achieve parity for women in
    general, and women of color in particular, in
    academic administration. Reginald Wilson,
     American Council on Education, USA

5
Women of Color in Higher Education
  • 28 of Chief Academic Officers are women (35
    are white women and 3 are women of color).
  • Among all senior administrators 38 are white
    women and 7 are women of color.
  • 23 of college presidents are women, with 19 of
    all female presidents being women of color.
  • Statistics from AACU Report, A Measure of
    Equity Women's Progress in Higher Education ,
    January 2009

6
Defining Critical Moments
  • Critical Events are key events in the academic
    experiences of nontraditional or historically
    underrepresented people on majority campuses
    (Students and Employees).
  • Critical Moments are those times when such
    underrepresented people perceive that their
    difference sets them apart and presents
    challenges to their future academic success.
  • Working through Critical Moments is key to
    academic success if one chooses to remain at a
    majority campus however, not everyone chooses or
    has the option or has the support to remain.

7
Our Story a Calvin Experience
  • Rhae-Ann Booker
  • Calvin College graduate
  • PhD from Western Michigan
  • Director of Pre-College Programs
  • 18 years employee of Calvin
  • With few African- Americans on staff, having
    longevity at Calvin seemed like a non-sensible
    expectation. Longevity was never a consideration.
  • Michelle Loyd-Paige
  • Calvin College graduate
  • PhD from Purdue
  • Dean for Multicultural Affairs
  • 25 years employee of Calvin
  • 20 years ago, if someone would have told me that
    I would become a tenured faculty member at Calvin
    and still be at Calvin after 20 years, I would
    have laughed and said, impossible!

8
  • All new faculty members typically experience,
    to some degree, the stressors discussed above.
  • But if you are a white woman, U.S. minority, or
    international minority taking on your first
    professional position in a predominantly
    European-American and male department or campus,
    then you have to cope with one or more of the
    following additional stressors. These have been
    termed cultural, racial, gender, or class taxes
    that are exacted from non-traditional faculty
    fulfilling the role of pioneer, outsider, and
    token.
  • Moody, J. 2004. Faculty Diversity Problems and
    Solutions

9
Special Stressors Faced by Non-Majority
  • The extra taxes borne by those from colonized
    groups
  • Internalizing feelings of inadequacy
  • Being seen as an affirmative action hire
  • Finding a chilly climate within the department
  • Being given too little or too much attention
  • Having scholarship undervalued
  • Experiencing acute sting of negative incidents
  • Managing excessive committee assignments
  • Managing excessive student demands
  • Handling inappropriate behavior
  • Overcoming isolation

10
Critical Breakthroughs
Coping, Surviving, and Thriving
  • Do a reality check on your skills celebrate what
    you do well improve expand skill set where
    needed find your niche.
  • Develop a plan to influence transformation.
  • Develop maintain allies on campus network
    beyond campus.
  • Develop maintain safe spaces.
  • Set boundaries value your time, get your work
    done.
  • Some days its okay not to be the diversity
    champion.

11
Things I Wish I Had Known
Coping, Surviving, and Thriving (Women at
Calvin input)
  • Develop your own caretaking and standards of
    success.
  • Pick your battles, know what you will go to the
    mat for.
  • Compromise, with the long-term end-goal in mind
    while living individually with integrity, is
    sometimes a good thing.
  • Relationships matter find ones that keep you
    sane.
  • Life is short and full of pain, but also grace.
  • We need opportunities to celebrate and be silly.
  • It is okay to show the full range of emotions,
    including anger, but not to the point of loss of
    agency.
  • You must develop a public demeanor.
  • Remind yourself of what it is that truly brings
    God glory.

12
Closing Thoughts
  • As more women of color pursue higher
    education, we can only hope that an increasing
    number of them will stay on to build life-long
    careers in the academy.
  • If this hope is to be realized, we must do all
    we can to eliminate the barriers that confront
    aspiring women of color academicians or cause
    women of color, in general, to bypass the academy
    altogether.

13
Recommended Reading
  • Rochelle Garner, CONTESTING THE TERRAIN OF
    THE IVORY TOWER SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP OF
    AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN IN THE ACADEMY. New York
    Routledge, 2004.
  • Conchita Y. Battle Chontrese M. Doswell, eds.,
    BUILDING BRIDGES FOR WOMEN OF COLOR IN HIGHER
    EDUCATION A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR SUCCESS. Lanham,
    MD University Press of America, 2004.
  • Theodorea Regina Berry Nathalie D. Mizelle,
    eds., FROM OPPRESSION TO GRACE WOMEN OF COLOR
    AND THEIR DILEMMAS WITHIN THE ACADEMY. Sterling,
    VA Stylus Publishing, 2006.
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