The hidden obstacles of microaggressions: a study of Latina administrators in California community colleges

The purpose of this qualitative study is to shed light on the experiences of six Latina California Community Colleges (CCC) administrators and the factors that contributed to their success. More specifically, the study examines how the elements of overt discrimination and covert discrimination (microaggressions) in the administrators’ work environment impacted their leadership development and career advancement. It also looks at the strategies of resilience that help Latina administrators succeed in their leadership positions despite their underrepresentation. The qualitative research design for this study captured the women’s stories and descriptions of racial microaggressions in their work environment. This study used a phenomenological approach because it focuses on “how people describe things and experience them through their senses” (Patton, 2002, p. 105). This particular approach helped describe the meaning behind research participants’ lived experiences of a phenomenon (Creswell, 2005). The researcher used critical race theory (CRT) and Latino critical race theory (LatCrit) as frameworks to analyze the impact of microaggressions on the Latina California community college administrators. Narratives were used as the primary method to gather data that address the relationship between racial microaggressions and work environment climate. A narrative is a methodological tool used to give a voice to a subordinate group (Aguirre, 2000). Research participants were given the opportunity to discuss their lived experiences by telling the stories of the subtle forms of racism or discrimination they experience.