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Title: “My walk has never been average”: Black tradeswomen negotiating intersections of race and gender in long-term careers in the U.S. building trades
Authors: Hunte, Roberta
Supervisor: Senehi, Jessica (Peace and Conflict Studies)
Examining Committee: Blum, Esther (Social Work) Kanu, Yatta (Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning) Chase, Susan (Sociology)
Graduation Date: October 2012
Keywords: Tradeswomen
Black Women
Issue Date: 14-Sep-2012
Abstract: This narrative inquiry explores how Black tradeswomen negotiate the intersections of race and gender in their long-term careers in the U.S. building trades. Much of the literature on women and minority groups in the trades has focused on the success, or lack of success, of these groups in apprenticeship programs. To my knowledge, none has collected rich data focused on the long-term retention of Black women in the trades, nor has any discussed the personal, interpersonal, and institutional strategies this non-traditional group uses to continue working in the construction industry. This study draws on theory and empirical studies from the fields of Peace and Conflict Studies, Black Studies, Gender Studies, Labor Studies, and Psychology to provide a nuanced analysis of the systemic nature of Black tradeswomen’s struggles for gender and racial equity within the workforce, and elucidates the personal, interpersonal, and institutional strategies these women have developed to continue in this field. In-depth interviews conducted with fifteen tradeswomen revealed how they described and made sense of (1) their experiences of entering the trades and how their experiences in the trades changed over time; (2) barriers to their continued success as tradespeople; and (3) the skills and knowledge they developed to sustain themselves professionally. Findings include recommendations for interventions at the levels of pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships, foremen, and higher to support the retention and promotion of Black tradeswomen in the industry. Tradeswomen highlight the necessity of combining anti-racist and anti-sexist struggles to promote greater inclusion of non-traditional workers. Black tradeswomen illuminate the importance of the cultivation of self-esteem and personal networks on and off the job as mitigating factors in a microaggressive work environment.
Appears in Collection(s):FGS - Electronic Theses & Dissertations (Public)

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