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Trawling deeper seas: the gendered production of seafood in Western Australia

Stella, Leonie C. (1998) Trawling deeper seas: the gendered production of seafood in Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis explores the sexual division of labour in three worksites associated with the Western Australian Fishing industry: fishers' households, a seafood processing company and fishing vessels. There has been no previous substantial study of the labour of women in Australian fishing industries.

My research has been primarily undertaken by interviewing women and men who work in the Western Australian fishing industry, and my findings are presented through a comparison with overseas literature relative to each site.

As I found, in the households of fishermen, women do unpaid and undervalued labour which includes servicing men and children; managing household finances and operating fishing enterprises. In seafood processing companies women are allocated the lowest paid and least rewarding work which is regarded as women's work. On-the factory floor issues of class, race/ ethnicity and gender intersect so that the majority of women employed in hands-on processing work are migrant women from a non-English speaking background. The majority of women who work at sea are cook/ deckhands who are confronted by a rigid sexual division of labour, and work in a hyper-masculine workplace.

The few other women who have found a niche which enables them to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle while they earn their own living, are those who work as autonomous independent small boat fishers. In each site there is evidence that women, individually and collectively, exercise some power in determining how and where they work, but they remain marginalised from the more lucrative sites of the industry, and have limited access to economic and social power.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Supervisor(s): Baldock, Cora
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