I Felt like a Dude: College Women's Accounts of the 2016 Louisiana Flood

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:24
Oral Presentation
Kyle BREEN, Louisiana State University, USA
As gender and disaster continues to be an increasingly growing field of study, women enrolled at university have been a unique subset of individuals that have been overlooked. College students may face unique impacts from disaster, as they must balance their need to focus on their education—which they or their families pay for in the U.S.—while also helping their families rebuild and recover from disaster impacts. Female students may face differing impacts as opposed to male students due to shifts in gender roles caused by natural disaster. This study focused on female college students’ reactions and perspectives on the large-scale flood that affected Louisiana, U.S. in August of 2016, and its impact on their financial and educational responsibilities, family roles, and gender roles. The data are derived from in-depth qualitative interviews with 30 college students, 18 of whom were female, who were either individually affected or their families were affected by the flooding. The female students described multiple ways that the flood changed their roles in the family and responsibilities in work and finances. Results show that these impacts varied, which could be due to differing demographic factors such as living arrangements, amount of damage, and family structure. However, a consistent theme for all female students was family responsibility change, which caused not only a reproduction of typical gender roles, but also caused college-aged women to move into a motherly or wifely role within their existing family structures. This study indicates a need for further research into the multiple effects that natural disaster has on college students and most notably women in college.