Gendered Division of Labor in Natural Disasters

            As a Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major, I am interested in learning about the challenges that women face in today’s society.  I often find myself trying to draw connections between gender and disaster in our research study regarding Hurricane Sandy and Long Beach victims.  Because our research is based on Facebook users’ posts in the “Long Beach NY, Hurricane Sandy Information” page, I have struggled to fully analyze how this natural disaster has affected gender roles.  Perhaps my expectation to see Facebook users’ grievances and personal accounts about gender roles has resulted in my frustration at times.  However, I am starting to realize that the type of information shared is not necessarily conducive to understanding every detail of victims’ experiences.  While some people are willing to publicize personal information, others assume a more neutral stance by remaining relatively private.  Although there is a discrepancy in how people divulge information, the gender component still seems to be missing.


After reading “Gender and Disaster: Foundations and Directions,” I became aware of how I could compensate for the seemingly absent gendered experiences.  In “Gender and Disaster: Foundations and Directions,” Elaine Enarson, Alice Fothergill, and Lori Peek explore the gendered division of labor during natural disasters.  These gender scholars of disaster claim, “…the division of labor at home, particularly regarding caregiving roles and responsibilities, may increase women’s pre-disaster vulnerability and place additional burdens on women during recovery” (135).  With respect to the Facebook posts, people may not be explicitly explaining their female or male experiences, but they are in fact providing gender information in the content of their posts.   


Though men do post on this Facebook page, the majority of posts are from women. Gender roles seem to have influenced how people interact on this Facebook page.  I am finding that men and women are portraying what they know best according to stereotypical gender-based services.  For example, men tend to offer home repair tips and services whereas women post about caretaking and other domestic services.  Because the Long Beach community has demonstrated its commitment towards reaching recovery, men and women are trying to take the appropriate actions to achieve this goal.  While men and women are not confined to stereotypical gender roles, they often seem to reflect the gendered division of labor in their Facebook posts.


 Work Cited

Enarson, Elaine, Alice Fothergill, and Lori Peek. “Gender and Disaster: Foundations and Directions.” Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research: Handbook of Disaster Research. 2004: 130-146. Ebrary. 7 March 2013.



One comment

  1. Wow, what else have you seen that reflects gendered labor and services? Can you give me more details? Work “up” from the posts and really speak to them.

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monica byrne

novelist . playwright . traveler . futurist . feminist


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