Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Osman Ozturgut


Rodney Hopson


Arthur Hernandez


Governance in the United States has been the domain of men since the idea of democracy and independence from England was in its infancy. The systematic oppression and exclusion of persons of color and women was the backdrop upon which the United States was founded. Many continue to experience conflict and struggle in their efforts to gain and maintain civil rights and seek personal and professional experiences free from marginalization and oppression. This purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the lived experiences group of Latinas who have been elected or appointed to public office with an emphasis critical variables of race, ethnicity, immigration story, gender, language, and socioeconomic class as defined by Latino Critical Race Theory and Chicana Feminist Theory.

The study employs Testimonio as methodology to explore oppressive and marginalizing influences throughout the personal and professional lives of seven Latinas in elected or appointed office. The use of constant comparative, iterative data analysis and testimonio methodology give voice to a collective narrative and is intended to act as demonstration of resistance to hegemony in white, male-dominated institutions of government.

The voices of the women in this study tell a cohesive story about the centrality of the family unit in Latino culture with emphasis on familismo and mariansmo and the traditional gender roles of women and girls in Latino families. Furthermore, the testimonios of the women describe oppression and marginalization suffered in personal and professional settings in the form of racism, sexism, misogyny, and sexual harassment. Despite these barriers, findings revealed that they sought public office in response to a call to public service, social justice, and altruism, especially for vulnerable persons who could not defend themselves from inequity or unfairness.

The testimonios of the seven women in this study tell a story of affection for tradition and love of family. Additionally, the testimonios reveal a shift toward women assuming prominent roles in the household and in the workplace all while navigating oppressive and marginalizing racial, gendered, and cultured experiences. The voices of the Latinas tell the story of how they adhere to dearly held cultural values and a profound fondness for tradition while, at the same time, positioning themselves as confident and capable elected officials.