La fortaleza de la mujer Latina: a superintendent's testimonio
Women represent about 75% of teachers in the United States, so you would expect that 75% of the country's superintendents would also be female (Blount, 1998). Unfortunately, that is not the case; the percentage of female superintendents is very small at 14%, and when you research the percentage of Latina superintendents, the proportion is even smaller at 10% (Brunner, 2000). In other words, women teach while men manage (Tallerico, 2000). The purpose of this study was to employ a qualitative testimonio design to interpret how one former Latina superintendent navigated through her superintendency and explored the phenomenon of the underrepresentation of Latinas in the superintendency while educational institutions are mainly comprised with female teachers. This testimonio additionally attempted to determine the meaning of the experiences lived by this selected former Latina superintendent participating in this testimonio in an effort to enhance the current research on leadership roles of Latina public school superintendents. In order to enhance this testimonio, secondary participants identified by the former Latina superintendent as school board members during her tenure were used in the pláticas to provide support of her lived experiences. The findings of the pláticas became a reality through the lens of the theoretical framework. This research study was grounded in Chicana Feminist Epistemology. Chicana Feminist Epistemology recognizes Latinas' diverse ways of knowing and the importance of their experiential knowledge as well as how that knowledge can inform theory and practice (Elenes & Delgado Bernal, 2010). The following themes were revealed, Preparación y Mi Experiencia [preparation and my experience] which included the following sub themes: motivation, role models/mentors, networking, education, and leadership. La Mesa (Direct)iva [the school board] included the following sub themes: barriers, school board relationships, and strategies. The findings brought forth the creation of (Mis)Identidades. (Mis)Identidades of my participant were discussed and organized using her voice in order to provide a rich description of preparation, experience, identity and relationship with the school board as she embarked on her journey of the superintendency. The components included family values, gender, ethnicity, culture, and spirituality and served as the identities that shaped who this former Latina superintendent was. The conceptual model presented multiple aspects that my participant embodied and every time she dealt with a challenge she pulled from her cultura [culture]. In dealing with (Mis)Indentidades, this practice shows vivid pictures in how her whole plática encompassed the symbolic representation of four loteria cards to create Una Mujer de Fortaleza. According to the data collected, La Fortaleza [the strength] embodies La Mujer Fuerte [the strong woman], La Jefa [the boss], La Ganadora [the winner] y La Esperanza [the hope].