Nerea Okong'o

Department of Geography

PhD Candidate

Full contact details

Nerea Okong'o
Department of Geography
Geography and Planning Building
Winter Street
S3 7ND

I define myself as a feminist geographer and my work has been dedicated towards making the world a better place for women. Over the years, I have been a part of the feminist movement championing for the rights of women and an equal world where gender, race or sex does not define who we are and who we will be. I have mentored young girls to rise above partriachy and define choices that would ensure they become the best versions of themselves. Professionally, I have worked in Gender equality; designing, fundraising for and documenting lessons and best practices towards ensuring a just and equal world for women. In my education journey, my feminist point of view has been loud and clear and reflected in my research and everyday interactions which Is dedicated to understanding the struggles everyday working women faces they navigate their environment. The Geography department at the University of Sheffield has provided me with the space, resources and intellectual richness that were necessary for me to move on to the next level in my activism. Since I joined the department in January 2017, I have been able to work with the best academic minds, an experience that has really helped me grow as a person and as a professional researcher.

Politics of progress: an analysis of gender in the extractive sector in Kenya

My PhD research contributes to a growing yet understudied area of gender integration and  African feminism - elitist feminism. It is conceptualised through a feminist political ecology framework, and based on empirical work on black women working in the extractives industry. Tokenism, race, sexism and infrastructures are discussed with primacy given to elite black women’s experiences within a sector that is highly masculinised and white. By contextualising black women’s experiences, this research  challenges the retrogressive discourses that define, shape and influence the way elite black women are engaged in cultural, social, political and economic processes. By introducing feminist concepts of care, difference, time and equality, this research is able to reconcile the elite woman as a worker, a wife, a mother and a leader/ mentor; positions that are often misunderstood and used to judge black women in a society that glorifies motherhood over ambition. Using critical discourse analysis as the methodology, five key arguments are made:

  1. Extractive sectors are highly unequal and  hide behind tokenism as a way of addressing race and gender inequalities
  2. Extractive infrastructure is white and male and does not recognise or resonate with black histories and  the multidimensional nature of woman as defined in African culture and African feminism
  3. Black women are disadvantaged twice- first as women and secondly as black women
  4. Their experiences in extractive workplaces is highly sexist, misogynistic and overly precarious with black women offered leadership when companies or departments fail/ are failing
  5. Competing issues such as racism/ethnicity take precedence over black women’s fight for equality at the workplace. Black women do not seek to be or act like men as such they are more concerned with their job security than on factors such as racism.

Supervisors: Professor Jenny Pickerill, Dr Charis Enns.


2006 - 2010: BA Sociology, Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya.

2014-2015: MSc Sustainability (Environment and Development).

Teaching activities

GEO6802 Research Design and Methods for Development, Graduate Teaching Assistant, 2017-2018

GEO246 Environment, Society and Politics Graduate Teaching Assistant, 2017-2018

GEO117 New Horizons in Geography Graduate Teaching Assistant, 2018-2019

Curriculum Review Research Project- MSc International Development, Research Assistant, 2018-2019.

Field Class Review: Research Assistant, 2018-2019

GEO6805 Professional Skills for Development, Graduate Teaching Assistant, 2021-2022