SS Talk: Jessica Smith Rolston on “Undoing Gender in Macho Industries: Ethnographic Perspectives on Women, Men and Mining in Wyoming”

Rolston 2015-2As part of the Visiting Women and Minority Lecture Series (VWMLS), the Social Sciences Department, and a grant from the Office of Institutional Equity from the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez Parks’ Initiative, Jessica Smith Rolston, Hennebach Assistant Professor of Energy Policy a the Colorado School of Mines will present: Undoing Gender in Macho Industries: Ethnographic Perspectives on Women, Men and Mining in Wyoming– based on her recent book, “Mining Coal and Undermining Gender.”
Dr. Rolston has extensive experience both researching and working in the coal mining industry.  The talk will be at noon in AOB 201 on Monday, April 13th.
While mining is popularly perceived as an exceptionally masculine industry, women constitute an average of twenty to twenty-five percent of production crews and at least half of engineering teams in northeastern Wyoming¹s surface coal mines. These mines produce a majority of the country¹s coal with fewer fatalities and accidents than other sectors of the industry. In this talk, Dr. Rolston draws on her experiences working and conducting research in the mines to argue that coal miners and engineers both construct and undo gender differences in their everyday working lives. The ethnographic materials show that even in an industry infamous for gender difference and discrimination, particular historical, cultural, and institutional factors open up spaces for men and women miners alike to debate, discuss and attempt to unmoor their understandings of work ethic from dominant masculinities and femininities. At the same time, she explores the limits of the miners¹ gender-neutral ideals by investigating the cultural notions and material conditions that make it differently difficult for men and women to embody the expectations crews hold for ‘hard work.’