Blue-collar women at work with men: A feminist qualitative social policy analysis of equal employment opportunity

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Robert C. Bogdan


Women workers, Blue-collar, Work, Feminist, Social policy, Equal employment opportunity

Subject Categories

Labor and Employment Law | Social Policy | Women's Studies | Work, Economy and Organizations


The purpose of this study is to define and understand sex-based equal employment opportunity and discrimination in the context of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act from the perspective of women who are employed in blue-collar traditionally male jobs. This study used feminist qualitative research methods and functional social policy analysis to: (1) describe and define the hostile work environment; (2) identify supports and barriers blue-collar women workers experience in the workplace environment; and, (3) understand how women performing traditionally male blue-collar jobs negotiate, acculturate and accommodate in order to perform the job and attain the rewards of the work.

The data for the research was gathered from in-depth interviews with seventeen women employed in traditionally male blue-collar jobs including public safety, construction, public utilities, trucking and shipping. Qualitative research methods were used to generate themes of hiring, job performance, organizational supports and barriers and coworker interpersonal relationships.

Individual women's work experiences form the basis for strategies and policy recommendations for increasing opportunity and reducing discrimination and harassment leading to increased worker satisfaction, production, retention, and safety and improved interpersonal relationships. Three key findings are generated. A pervasively hostile work environment exists for women, which exceeds the limited case law definition of Title VII. The use and development of a reasonable women standard may result in improved and increased worker safety, productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. And, in order for women to have equal employment opportunity, employment policies and practices must exceed the standing protections provided by equal rights legislation and policy.


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