Gender, Labor, and Kinship in Mining
Though mining is an infamously masculine industry, women make up 20 percent of all production crews in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin—the largest coal-producing region in the United States. Drawing on extended ethnographic fieldwork in active mines, plus my own experiences growing up in Gillette and working as a haul truck driver myself, I investigated how gender came to matter -- and not -- in the everyday work and kinship practices of miners. My book Mining Coal and Undermining Gender: Rhythms of Work and Family in the American West, offers a rich and surprising view of the working “families” that miners construct. In this picture, gender roles are not nearly as straightforward—or as straitened—as stereotypes suggest.