Gender and Everyday Water Use in Los Angeles Working Paper Series

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The UCLA Center for the Study of Women is proud to announce the publication of the Gender and Everyday Water Use in Los Angeles Working Paper Series, which presents preliminary results from the Gender and Everyday Water Use in Los Angeles Study conducted by faculty and student researchers at the UCLA Center for the Study of Women. Funded in part by a sustainable LA Grand Challenge Grant, this project investigates the important but understudied role of gender—as it intersects with race and class—in residential water use in Los Angeles. It was supervised by Principal Investigator Jessica Cattelino, who in addition to being a CSW Senior Research Associate is also an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies and an affiliate in American Indian Studies.

The goal of reducing residential water use requires nuanced understanding of the ways that people use, think about, and value water. In the context of international development, policymakers and researchers understand that gender shapes water, especially because women and children are disproportionately responsible for procuring water. Meanwhile, in the United States, feminist scholars long have found that household divisions of labor and decision-making are often gendered. Putting together these two bodies of knowledge, along with the fact that women have led many American water struggles, from Standing Rock to Flint to Compton, it is surprising that gender remains largely absent from water management and water research in the U.S. This study found that women disproportionately are responsible for the household management of water and for its use in households.

The five working papers in this series address a variety of topics that center on the everyday lives of Angelenos: Megan Baker examines gendered divisions of labor in families’ management of household water usage. Courtney Cecale explores the ways in which Los Angeles’ children are marshalled as advocates for water conservation. PwintPhyu Nander investigates the effect of generational knowledge and the immigrant experience on Angeleno families’ water consumption. Kelsey Kim explains the process of water diary-keeping that was essential to the study, and what it revealed about the gender division of labor. Finally, Dalila Ozier delves into the rhetoric of disaster that underlies Los Angeles’ discourse around water. Their work connects everyday life to the large-scale questions of water scarcity and management that face our world in the twenty-first century.

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