Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education

First Advisor's Name

Benjamin Baez

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

James Burns

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Maria Lovett

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Daniel Saunders

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Cultural Taxation, Hispanic-Serving Institution, Higher Education, Minorities, Underrepresented, Faculty of Color, University Administrators, Tokenism, Diversity, Workplace Diversity, Diversity in Higher Education, Minority Faculty

Date of Defense



Cultural taxation is a term used by some to describe the additional work required of faculty of color as representatives of their racial or ethnic groups. Padilla (1994) defines cultural taxation as “situations that are imposed [on faculty]... by the administration.” Many prior studies about cultural taxation focus on the experiences of faculty of color at predominately White institutions and understanding of this phenomenon is heavily aligned with those spaces and circumstances. While much of the literature presents the additional workload for underrepresented faculty as damaging (Hirshfield & Joseph, 2011; Pololi et al., 2010; Hassouneh et al., 2014; Mahoney et al., 2008; Kolade, 2016; Trower, 2003; Blackburn & Lawrence, 1995), some research suggests that this work exemplifies a form of critical agency or is otherwise fulfilling (Baez, 2000; Blake, 2018; Chang et al., 2016). This dissertation offers insight into such understandings, but it expands the notion of cultural taxation by accounting for the experiences of administrators. Administrators were largely absent from literature about this phenomenon, although they, too, play significant roles within institutions of higher education. Thus, in this study, cultural taxation is defined as the additional physical or mental demands imposed on underrepresented members of the academy irrespective of intentionality or origination.

The setting for the dissertation research was Florida International University, which offered a sample that allowed for the inclusion of otherwise often excluded populations. Fifteen underrepresented faculty and administrators participated in this qualitative interview study by sharing their experiences at FIU as they relate to cultural taxation in the course of one semi-structured, open-ended interview session. The qualitative interviews allowed the researcher to “understand the world from [their] point of view... to uncover their lived world” (Kvale, 1996, p. 482), and grasp multiple understandings of the phenomenon and how they experience it.

This dissertation found three forces that can induce cultural taxation: external, internal, and social. Externally imposed forms of cultural taxation involve instances in which one is directly called upon, asked, or directed to complete certain objectives. Internally imposed forms of cultural taxation involve instances or situations that are imposed by oneself. Socially imposed forms of cultural taxation involve acts that are in response to the social climate and/ or social structure typically set by dominant groups. The results from this study require a recognition of cultural taxation as more than a phenomenon that underrepresented members of the academy experience a result of situations imposed by the institution. In addition, understanding the phenomenon beyond the “physical” demands by also acknowledging the mental demands experienced by underrepresented populations also provides a space for dialogue about some of the less visible components of cultural taxation and further provides a foundation for systematic changes in the academy.





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