Latina Teachers: Creating Careers and Guarding Culture
Glenda M. Flores

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Irvine

Primary Discipline

My book, Latina Teachers, sheds new light on the work lives of college-educated Latinas who enter the teaching profession and work in multiracial schools in metropolitan Los Angeles with mostly non-white coworkers. The book bridges the fields of cultural capital in education and race/ethnicity in occupations to elucidate how Latina teachers incorporate ethnic culture into their daily work lives in two different contexts. I examine the pathways into the job they have, how structural conditions influenced their agency and directed them to certain districts, and what creates the disparate workplace experiences. I argue that Latina teachers working in two scholastically underperforming ‘majority-minority’ multiracial schools actively assist Latino families in schools by creatively moving beyond institutionalized curricula—which is typically geared towards a white-middle-class mainstream-designed to fit all students regardless of background. Latina Teachers relies on a comparative study design to elucidate the workplace experiences of Latinas at Garvey Unified, a predominantly working-class Latino and Chinese community in the west San Gabriel Valley, and those of Latina teachers in Compton, a formerly African American community that is now predominantly Latino. The book draws upon the author’s 50 in-depth interviews with teachers; over 450 hours of copious ethnographic and participant observations; focus groups with parents of children enrolled in these schools, and analysis of district school meetings. I suggest that Latina teachers are “cultural guardians” who devise and fashion ethical alternatives to subtractive schooling practices and cultural deficit models to make schools more welcoming spaces for co-ethnic children. As a teaching method, they rely upon an alternative form of cultural capital I call Latino cultural resources or Chicana/Latina cultural pedagogies to guard their students’ cultural identities within and beyond the school, but the institutions, standardized testing, and the schools in which they find themselves simultaneously regulate them because they do not follow the Americanization script.
About Glenda M. Flores
Dr. Glenda M. Flores is a professor of Chicano/Latino Studies with a courtesy appointment in Sociology and the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Her book manuscript Latina Teachers: Creating Careers and Guarding Culture is forthcoming with New York University Press. In her book she explores how teaching has emerged as the number one occupation that college educated Latinas enter, and examines their workplace experiences in ‘majority-minority’ multiracial schools in Southern California. She has conducted extensive research with teachers in Santa Ana, Compton, and Rosemead, communities that serve predominantly immigrant and racial/ethnic minority populations. Her award winning research on Latina teachers has received national recognition and has appeared in academic journals such as Qualitative Sociology, Gender, Work and Organization, Latino Studies, Ethnography, and City and Community. Throughout the academic year Dr. Flores teaches “Latino Immigration, Incorporation and the Future,” “Chicano/Latinos and Labor,” and “Latinos in a Global Society.” She has also presented her research internationally such as at the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos in Cuernavaca, México and the University of Keele in England. Dr. Flores just finished a three-year term for the Latina/o Sociology Council of the American Sociological Association and is beginning a three-year term as the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Chicano/Latino Studies at UCI. Professor Flores is currently working on several research projects with graduate and undergraduate students that examine the social mobility patterns of the children of Latino immigrants and their experiences in the white-collar world. Her areas of expertise include Latina/o Sociology, Work and Occupations, Middle Class Minorities, The Intersection of Race, Gender and Class, Education, and Qualitative Methods.

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