Inequality on the Rails: A Qualitative Study of Women's Experiences in the Railroad Industry




Starustka, Kathleen Lowry

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This study focuses on women who work in the railroad industry as a case study of male-dominated occupations. My theoretical approach utilizes Acker’s theory of gendered organizations to explore how the railroad industry continues to marginalize women by incorporating structures that are modeled by male ideology. I use qualitative methods that include face-to-face interviews and email correspondence with 18 women who are either currently employed or have previously worked for a railroad. My findings reveal several gendered practices in railroad work. Harassment towards the women I interviewed from male coworkers is common, particularly by their immediate supervisors. Inadequate layoff policies adversely affect women with children forcing some to choose between their jobs or having a family. Unions do very little to protect women railroad workers, leaving them vulnerable to unfair treatment by their employers. I conclude with the shortcomings of my study and suggestions for future research to examine why women do not seek out the high paying jobs railroads offer



Railroads, Women, Female, Male-dominated occupations


Starustka, K. L. (2013). <i>Inequality on the Rails: A Qualitative Study of Women's Experiences in the Railroad Industry</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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