“Are you bossy in general? Are you like a bossy person?” -Jimmy Kimmel
“No, I would just say…I’m a boss.” -American Ferrera
“What is the difference between bossy and being a boss?”-Jimmy Kimmel
“Uh, being a woman.” -American Ferrera
In this interview exchange on Jimmy Kimmel Live (2017), America Ferrera pointed out two words that demonstrate the double standard that womxn often face, boss and bossy. There are many examples however of where boss and bossy can be replaced with other words, take being aggressive versus assertive. Ferrera’s simple use of words in this short video clip sums up the sexism that we often experience as womxn. Words have been used with different connotations and meanings often based on gender or race.
As a first-generation Latina I entered higher education without the slightest thought of experiencing any kind of -isms. When I began experiencing microaggressions within the profession, I never thought some of these experiences would occur amongst, or come from, other people of color. In one of my earlier leadership roles, a Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs who served as a mentor shared a few words of wisdom and advice with me that, at the time, I did not fully grasp. He said I had three things working against me, I am a womxn, I am Latina, and I am young (by white cisgender heterosexual standards). Reflecting back to his words and my experiences to-date, I now of course understand what he meant. As a person of color close to retirement he had many of his own experiences to share from.
When I began experiencing sexism and began having conversations with other Latinas and Womxn of Color in higher education, I quickly learned that I was not the only one in need of hearing from other’s experiences. I began to think of the idea of presenting on the experiences of Latinas within the profession because I felt that it is what I would have needed, to hear from others and to know that I was not alone. I first began presenting around the issues of the diverse experiences of Latinas in Higher Education at NASPA at a regional conference in 2019 (Hernández et al.). I was astonished by the number of attendees at this first panel presentation, it was standing room only. One presentation eventually turned into several conference presentations (Hernández et al., 2021, 2022, 2023). With each presentation I facilitated, it was my goal to have Latinas from different roles and in different levels of leadership as panelists sharing from their own lived experiences. At every panel presentation I am motivated by the number of people that attend, and more than anything, by the number of Latinas that show up and the questions they ask. Eventually my presentations turned into a book opportunity. I have a short-edited book, titled Diverse Experience of Latinas in Higher Education, Chingonas on their own Terms, which was proposed and accepted for publication by Routledge and will be available for pre-order on August 11, 2023. In this book each chapter is a different Latina author sharing from their lived experiences within education.
As I work to help others I am constantly reflecting on my own progress and comfort with being authentic as a Latina in leadership within the profession. It is my hope that my work and this book serves as advocacy as I help highlight the experiences of Latinas in higher education while also pointing to the inequities. More than anything I hope that it serves as a tool for insight into our experiences and provides an opportunity for dialogue, reflection and further learning.
Hernández, R. D., Oseguera, T., Abeyta, M. & Martinez, B. (2019, November 2-5). Chingonas in their Own Way: Diverse experiences of Latinas/x in student affairs [Conference session]. NASPA WesternRegional Conference, Portland, OR, United States.
Hernández, R. D., Oseguera, T., Abeyta, M. & Martinez, B. (2021, March 21-24). Chingonas in their OwnWay: Redefining Professionalism [Conference session]. NASPA Virtual Conference, United States Hernández, R. D., Quiñones-Ortega, D., Abeyta, M. & Martinez, B. (2021, October 14-16). Chingonas intheir Own Way: Panel Presentation on Redefining Professionalism [Conference session]. Latinx Connect Virtual Conference October 2021
Hernández, R. D., Quiñones-Ortega, D., Torres-Retana, R., Zavala-Aceves, E. & Martinez, B. (2021,November 11-13). Chingonas defying Societal Expectations [Conference session]. NASPAWestern Regional Conference, San Francisco, CA, United States
Hernández, R. D., Abeyta, M., Durán, L. & Martinez, B. (2022, March 20-23). Chingonas defyingSocietal Expectations [Conference session]. NASPA National Conference, Baltimore, MD,UnitedStates.
Hernández, R. D., Galdamez, K.E., Vargas, P., Perez, J., & Ortiz, D. (2022, October 17-21). Fronteras-Latinas Panel. Undocumented Student Week of Action, Ventura College, CA, United States.
Hernández, R. D., Duran, L., Macias, H., Vega, N. (2023, March 8). Phenomenal Women in HigherEducation. Mohave Community College Celebrates Women’s History Month [Virtual session].Lake Havasu City, AZ, United States.
Hernández, R. D., Vega, N., Enciso, M., & Mata, S. (2023, April 1-5). Mujeres in Leadership[Conference session]. NASPA National Conference, Boston, MA, United States.
Kimmel, J. (2017, March 23). America Ferrera on the Difference Between Being Bossy and Being BOSS.[Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4Kt3UcM8mw