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Gendered Homophobia and the Contradictions of Workplace Discrimination for Women in the Building Trades


Drawing on 63 interviews with a diverse sample of tradeswomen, this article examines how the cultural meanings of sexual orientation-as well as gender presentation, race, and body size-shapes the constraints that women face in the construction industry and the specific resistance strategies they develop. We argue that women's presence in these male-dominated jobs threatens (1) notions of the work as inherently masculine and (2) a gender order that presumes the sexual subordination of women. Tradesmen neutralize the first threat by labeling tradeswomen as lesbians-and therefore not "real" women-and respond to the second by sexualizing straight and lesbian tradeswomen alike. In turn, tradeswomen develop individual resistance strategies, which are shaped by the intersections of their sexual identity, gender presentation, race, and body size. Finally, we show how tradesmen deploy homophobia to stymie collective action and solidarity by tradeswomen, gay or straight. © 2013 by The Author(s).

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