Barriers and Bias: Women in Water Utilities Are Breaking Them All

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water utilities
gender gap
gender and water
water leaders
Africana Studies
Appalachian Studies
Curriculum and Social Inquiry
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Environmental Design
Environmental Engineering
Environmental Health
Environmental Law
Environmental Studies
Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
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Urban, Community and Regional Planning
Water Resource Management
Women's Studies
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Around the world, women are the mainstays of society, from raising children to supporting families to caring for the needy. In developing countries, they are also usually responsible for collecting and providing water for the family. In doing so, their time, health, safety, education and income are compromised. Outdated and undisputed social norms create the biases that force women to bear the responsibility to secure and distribute water, thereby creating barriers to women’s advancement in educational opportunities and significantly reducing income-earning potential. Similarly, in the developed world, outdated social norms create biases and barriers in the water industry that limit women’s advancement in terms of roles and leadership opportunity. However, with increased awareness of opportunities in the water sector in the early stages of their careers, it is possible to attract more women to the water sector and for these women to become the next generation of water leaders. This article discusses the biases, barriers and bottlenecks facing women who work in water utilities, current leadership’s responsibility to attract more women to the sector and the role of communications in attracting more young minds toward water utilities. This paper presents the state of the knowledge of female employment in water careers in the United States (US) and is supported by learnings from interviewing four women water leaders working in four different large US water utilities.

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