Gender and Deindustrialization: Ex-steelworkers Discuss Women's Work in Pittsburgh, PA1


  • 1

    The research presented in this paper was supported by a two-year grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation through the Steel Industry Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Dissertation write-up was supported by a grant from the University of Pittsburgh's Provost's Development Fund.


Abstract: The effects of deindustrialization on attitudes towards women's work in Pittsburgh, PA are explored using narratives derived from twenty life history interviews of ex-steelworkers. Oral history is presented as an anthropological method capable of furthering feminist studies of masculine and feminine work experiences by attaining more democratic and humanistic accounts of historical events. Socio-cultural bias against women's work outside the home is identified in the industrial and post-industrial settings. The importance of women's work to economic security in the post-industrial period increases due to the instability of ex-workers employment after steel and the increasing prevalence of divorce. Findings indicate that cultural barriers against women's work remain prevalent in Pittsburgh's post-industrial cultural environment, despite the vast movement of women into the workforce.