CSW Senior Faculty Research Associate Jessica Cattelino (PI) and former CSW Director Rachel Lee (Co-PI) were awarded a grant from UCLA’s Sustainable LA Grand Challenge program in order to tackle these questions. Her pioneering new research project, “Gender and Everyday Water Use in Los Angeles,” is the first of its kind and asks new questions about how to conserve water for future generations. Along with ten other initiatives funded as part of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge this year, this study helps researchers and policymakers envision and build a more sustainable future for Los Angeles in the face of climate change.
The study examines how gender shapes the way that people use, value, and save water on an everyday basis. It is well known that women disproportionately procure and manage household water in developing nations. Despite the fact that household work and decision-making remain highly gendered in the United States, there is little scholarship on gender and residential water use here. Selecting four diverse Los Angeles neighborhoods, CSW researchers observed everyday gendered water practices, not only studying women but also documenting indoor and outdoor water practices for all adults over a two-year period.
By using a combination of anthropological methods—surveys, participant observation, etc.—and by explicitly using gender as an analytical lens, this study reveals new data about how gender intersects with race and class to inform the way that Angelenos use water and ways that we might conserve. CSW researchers will use the results of this study to advise legislators and policymakers on how to reduce water use, increase use of greywater, and encourage other sustainable indoor and outdoor residential practices.