Master of Arts (MA)


Foreign Languages and Literatures

Document Type



This thesis presents an investigation into the various cultural and societal factors that contribute to the Latina teen pregnancy rate. According to the PEW Hispanic Center, Latinas account for more instances of adolescent motherhood than any other ethnic or ethnic demographic in the country. Although much research has been done in the area of teen pregnancy, so far little has been completed with the specified focus on the Latina population. This study therefore offers a unique perspective of the phenomenon in its consideration of various literary and sociological works, by both Latina and non-Latina authors, that underscore the prevalence of cultural expectations and ideologies behind the notions of femininity, virginity, and motherhood. Each of these cultural precepts is so deeply embedded in the Latino community (and influential over the teen pregnancy rate) that each merits its own designated chapter. The fourth chapter explores the actual manifestation of Latino norms in the United States framework as Latinas, being feminine and part of an ethnic minority, encounter significant generational, cultural, and linguistic struggles in the nebulous borderlands of “el entre” (in-between). The subsequent chapter analyzes the pivotal role that the U.S. society has on the lives of these young ladies as many are confronted by profound educational and economic limitations. Results from the conducted qualitative research, either through questionnaires or personal interviews with young Latinas, will be incorporated throughout these five chapters when relevant. The Latino cultural expectations of femininity, virginity, and motherhood will be increasingly powerful when simultaneously considered with the dearth of opportunities available to many Latinas in the U.S. Understandably, the appeal of young motherhood becomes inversely related to their probability of attaining financial independence and educational success. Lastly, an exploration of the overall conclusions and suggestions for increasing the multiplicity of options for current and future Latinas in the U.S. will constitute the final chapter.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Martins, Laura