[UTES] Gaslighted: How the Oil and Gas Industry Shortchanges Women Scientists

Event Status

Christine Williams, Professor of Sociology and the Elsie and Stanley E. (Skinny) Adams, Sr. Centennial Professor in Liberal Arts, University of Texas at Austin

Location: Find virtual access details below*

Abstract: The oil and gas industry is one of the richest and most powerful industries in the world. In recent years, company avowals in support of diversity, much-touted programs for "women in STEM," and, most importantly, a tight labor market with near parity in women pursuing geoscience credentials might lead us to expect progress for women in this industry's corporate ranks. Yet, for all the talk of "the great crew change," the industry remains overwhelmingly white and male. In her new book, Sociologist Christine L. Williams asks, where are the women?  To answer this question, Williams embarked on a decade-long investigation—one involving one hundred in-depth interviews, a longitudinal survey, and ethnographic research—that allowed her to observe the industry in times of boom and bust. She found that when the industry expands, women may be able to walk through the door, but when the industry contracts, the door becomes a revolving one, whirling ever faster, as companies retreat to their white male core. These gendered outcomes are obscured by firms' stated commitments to diversity in hiring and the language of merit. The result is organizational gaslighting, a radical dissonance between language and practice that Williams exposes for all.

Speaker Biography: Dr. Christine Williams is Professor of Sociology and the Elsie and Stanley E. (Skinny) Adams, Sr. Centennial Professor in Liberal Arts.  She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.  Her research focuses on gender, race, and class inequality in the workplace.  She also studies sexuality, homophobia, and sexual harassment in a wide variety of workplace settings. Dr. Williams' most recent publications analyze gender inequality and diversity culture in the oil and gas industry.  Professor Williams is the recipient of two lifetime achievement awards from the American Sociological Association:  the Jessie Bernard Award in recognition of her scholarly work on gender and society, and the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for her contributions to understanding organizations, occupations, and work.  Dr. Williams served as the 111th President of the American Sociological Association in 2020. 

*Note: This talk will be presented remotely via Zoom and on the Energy Institute's YouTube channel. If using Zoom, viewers must register for an account with Zoom and log in to Zoom using that registration in order to use the meeting link and participate. Faculty, students and staff of UT, please use your personal UT Zoom account. 

Zoom Link: https://utexas.zoom.us/s/96867307180 

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Date and Time
March 8, 2022, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Virtual event
Event tags
UT Energy Symposium