The women described in The House on Mango Street are loosely based on the author's own relatives, friends, and neighbors in Chicago.
In traditional Latino culture, while the matriarch is highly respected and has social power and influence within the family, women are generally designated to supporting roles by males. Machismo is a feature of the male-dominated Hispanic culture, and this is evident in the neighborhood that Esperanza lives in.
However, gender roles are blurred inside of Esperanza's household, because they have to take on duties that are necessary for their survival in a poor neighborhood. Esperanza and her friends meet various women in the neighborhood who experienced abuse in the hands of their husbands, or had to let go of old ambitions in order to support their family. There is a culture of suppression and oppression of women throughout the barrio, but the women remain resilient despite their circumstances.
It can be argued that the female characters and their experiences in The House on Mango Street are a microcosm of Hispanic women throughout the United States and beyond. It can also be argued that anachronistic traditions, gender roles, and poverty are challenges that some Hispanic women face even today.