"I Just Gotta Have Tough Skin": Women’s Experiences Working in the Oil and Gas Industry in Canada

Citation:

Murphy, Kathleen, Lola Strand, Linda Theron, and Michael Ungar. 2021. “‘I Just Gotta Have Tough Skin’: Women’s Experiences Working in the Oil and Gas Industry in Canada.” The Extractive Industries and Society 8 (2).

Authors: Kathleen Murphy, Lola Strand, Linda Theron, Michael Ungar

Abstract:

Women remain vastly underrepresented in the oil and gas workforce. As such, they are subject to gender-based discrimination and harassment, perpetuated by a hyper masculine work culture, yet little is known about their experiences working on the front lines. Guided by feminist interpretive inquiry, the purpose of this research was to understand the experiences of young women in blue collar and administrative positions within the oil and gas industry, in a small Canadian town. One-on-one semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 women ages 18–30 between February 2018 and March 2019. Data were analyzed using an inductive thematic content analysis, and findings were validated by a Local Advisory Committee. Participating women experienced gender-based discrimination and harassment. Still, many women enjoyed their work, took pride in defying gender-based expectations, and tended to persevere by having ‘tough skin’. Women’s coping mechanisms tended to reinforce the masculine culture that perpetuates the gender-based challenges they face. Findings suggest that industry practices must adapt to create a safe and inclusive workplace.

Keywords: women in industry, gender norms, gender equity, oil and gas workforce, inclusive workplace

Topics: Extractive Industries, Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Masculinism Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Canada

Year: 2021

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