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Title: Inclusivity : understanding the careers of women in the construction industry
Author: Gurjao, Sonia
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 4131
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2010
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The UK construction industry has a poor record of attracting, recruiting, training, and retaining women in the construction workforce at both operative and professional levels. Despite the need for a more balanced and inclusive workforce, the industry has failed to deliver on good intentions and promises. The workforce is male dominated and shows little enthusiasm for change. The research aim is to consider why, despite years of public and private sector initiatives, there has been no significant change in the numbers of women working in the construction industry. It considers the relationship between women and work and the construction industry, investigating how women are, and can be encouraged to become a part of the industry. Three research propositions were postulated: Firstly, the use of the term "women in construction" is too generic. It fails to recognise the heterogeneity, and the age stratification of women in the labour market. Women have different aspirations, motivations and responsibilities at various times during their careers that need to be recognised if they are to be encouraged, and retained in the construction industry and the allied professions. Secondly, the government acts as a facilitator for change in promoting gender equality and inclusivity. It aims to encourage and legislate to make the workforce more inclusive, but despite many initiatives, they have failed to make a Significant difference to the number of women working in the UK construction industry. Lastly, there is a potential conflict between the ideals of gender equality and inclusivity with the business case in the construction sector. The propositions were considered by the use of eleven collective multiple-case studies and five singe-case studies, selected to investigate this complex issue. The aim was to understand, explore and interpret women's 'lived experience' of their careers. The conclusions were a timeline model showing the many issues women face over the duration of their careers whilst considering a career in the construction sector. There have been many good initiatives by the governments since 2000 offering incentives to both employers, and for women to gain qualifications and work experience. Despite the declared success of the programmes, little has changed; there has been no discernable increase of women in the construction sector. The thesis makes recommendations about the issues influencing the decision to pursue a career in the sector and the changes that will need to be made. The "leaky pipeline" concept shows the importance of not just recruiting women into the workforce, but retention and progression must have a high priority. Career and life style are very important to women, blended with the importance of the family. Age was not a barrier to entry, not even for returnees returning to the world of work. The fundamental contribution to knowledge is a development model of women's career timelines based on the "leaky pipeline concept". A method of standardising the timeline was developed and tested using a combination of an established lifeline coding system and a career stage model developed from past research. The findings have demonstrated that economic, historic, social, legal, and political contexts facilitate opportunities for women's initiation into the construction trades and professions. The presumption has been that women in construction are a homogeneous group and join the industry as a school leaver or returnee, the development model has shown that this assumption is not correct.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available