Doubly Invisible: Women’s Labor in the US Gulf of Mexico Offshore Oil and Gas Industry
Work and labor in the US offshore oil and gas industry has received little attention; where it has been examined, women have been largely ignored. Women always have been greatly outnumbered by their male co-workers. Though civil rights laws, equal opportunity employment guidelines, and fear of lawsuits forced companies to hire women beginning in the 1970s, neither the US federal nor state governments have done much to increase the proportion of women in the offshore workforce. Despite their small numbers, though, women, like their male counterparts, have entered the industry from a wide variety of backgrounds and have had diverse experiences. This essay provides a history of US women’s work offshore, covering the period from the 1940s through the 1990s, and explores women’s experiences there.