Frontier Masculinity in the Oil Industry: The Experience of Women Engineers

Citation:

Miller, Gloria E. 2004. “Frontier Masculinity in the Oil Industry: The Experience of Women Engineers.” Gender, Work & Organization 11 (1): 47–73.

Author: Gloria E. Miller

Abstract:

This study contributes to the empirical evidence in the area of gendered organizations (Martin and Collinson, 2002) and their effects on the women who work in them through an interpretive, ethnographic analysis of the oil industry in Canada, specifically Alberta. The study combines data from interviews with women professionals who have extensive employment experience in the industry, a historical analysis of the industry’s development in the area and the personal contextual experience of the author. It is suggested that there are three primary processes which structure the masculinity of the industry: everyday interactions which exclude women; values and beliefs specific to the dominant occupation of engineering which reinforce gender divisions; and a consciousness derived from the powerful symbols of the frontier myth and the romanticized cowboy hero. In this dense cultural web of masculinities, the strategies that the women developed to survive, and, up to a point, to thrive, are double-edged in that they also reinforced the masculine system, resulting in short-term individual gains and an apparently long-term failure to change the masculine values of the industry.

Keywords: organizational culture, gendered organization, barriers to women managers, women engineers, petroleum industry

Topics: Extractive Industries, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Canada

Year: 2004

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