A boom for whom? : gender, labor, and community in a modern day oil boomtown
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This dissertation examines women’s job opportunities in a 21st century boomtown. Between 2009 and 2014, "Boomville" experienced rapid economic and population growth in response to increased hydraulic fracturing activity in the region. Throughout this period, women were far less likely than men to move to Boomville, join the paid labor force, and enter the fastest growing sectors of Boomville's economy. Drawing on six months of ethnographic fieldwork, interviews with 49 women, and interviews with community "experts," my dissertation seeks to explain women's underrepresentation in the oil & gas industry and other manual labor sectors, Boomville's regional labor market, and the community at-large --and in doing so, to reveal the complex role of gender in shaping the distribution of job opportunities in a rapidly expanding economy centered on oil and gas extraction. I document variation in women’s perceptions of job opportunities and barriers in Boomville, workforce experiences, and discourses. My dissertation contributes to an understanding of women's experiences in natural resource communities as well as the mechanisms and factors that contribute to gender segregation and gender inequality in the formal paid labor force.