Priti Patel yesterday admitted she did not feel comfortable when she arrived to lead the Home Office as an ethnic minority woman.
The Home Secretary told peers she experienced 'push-back' from officials when she was appointed two years ago.
She said: 'I'm an ethnic minority Home Secretary coming into the department where, you know, it didn't feel that comfortable.
'Departments get institutionalised in their thinking and their ways of working.'
Priti Patel (pictured) admitted she did not feel comfortable when she arrived to lead the Home Office as an ethnic minority woman, telling peers she experienced 'push-back' from officials
Miss Patel indicated officials were resistant as she attempted to bring in reforms she believed were vital.
She told the Lords justice and home affairs committee: 'We are democratically-elected politicians, elected by the British public. Yes, they want change.
'Yes, they want reform. But it's also up to us to get under the bonnet and understand many of those sort of core components as to how we can serve people better.
'And that has always been integral to me, my instincts and my line of questioning the department, which has been challenging.
Miss Patel (pictured in March) indicated officials were resistant as she attempted to bring in reforms she believed were vital when she was appointed two years ago
'It's been difficult. I've had a lot of push-back in many, many quarters.'
It comes after the dramatic resignation of top Home Office civil servant Sir Philip Rutnam last year.
He said he had received allegations of Miss Patel 'shouting and swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands'.
A Cabinet Office investigation found she broke rules on ministerial behaviour but Boris Johnson allowed her to keep her job.