Politics, Progress and the Place of Elite Black African Women in Extractive Sectors in Kenya

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This research contributes to a growing yet understudied area of elite feminism and elite geography through its summation of black women experiences in Kenya’s Oil and Gas sector. Using African Feminism as a backdrop to the application of Feminist Political Ecology, this research problematises concepts of care, time, difference and equality. This is in an attempt to bring coherence to and ‘Africanise’ the experiences of black women in elite, masculine spaces
such as extractive industries. It is based upon empirical study done over 5 months in Kenya’s capital Nairobi where data was collected through 8 interviews and 2 workshops where elite women and men got to share their experiences of working in and working with black women in the industry. The lines of question involved discussions over how they perceived gender in the industry to infrastructure, race issues as well as sexism and equality. From these responses,
inferences were made which pointed towards an existential system and infrastructure that was not only foreign/ western but was also designed to limit the inclusion and growth of black women in highly technical elitist positions and leadership. By contextualising black women’s experiences, this research therefore challenges the retrogressive discourses that define, shape
and influence the way elite black African women are engaged in extractive processes reconciling existing notions of what a woman and a woman’s body should be or a worker in extractives should look like. This research presents African feminism as an alternative to/ and moving beyond western feminist ideas to include black African women’s experiences and point of view. This brings about interesting discussions on its intersectionality with feminist ideas such as leaky bodies and glass cliff and how African women’s experiences decent from western feminist ideas and the broader black feminist discussions. I argue that these experiences are intertwined to their environment and black African women’s multi-faceted identity as mothers, leaders, workers and wife makes their lived experiences unique and different from western feminism. However, in this difference, inequalities and exclusionary tendencies thrives and persists (re)creating infrastructures of marginalisation in an environment that is already white, male and patriarchal
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Sheffield
Thesis sponsors
Award date30 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Black African women
  • Feminism
  • African Feminism
  • Difference
  • Time
  • Care
  • Experience
  • Tokenism
  • Extractives
  • Elite


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