Barriers to women in the UK construction industry
Worrall, LJ, Harris, K, Stewart, R, Thomas, A and McDermott, P 2010, 'Barriers to women in the UK construction industry' , Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 17 (3) , pp. 268-281.
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Purpose – This paper aims to identify the main barriers that lead to the under-representation of women in the UK construction industry. The study, funded by ConstructionSkills, seeks to explore the issues that women face and investigate the potential positive impact that continuous professional development (CPD) may have upon improving the retention and career progression of women. Design/methodology/approach – The study uses an open-ended grounded theory (GT) approach, including 231 semi-structured questionnaires and nine focus groups with women from a range of professional occupations. All the findings were analysed using keyword analysis to identify the top two barriers that women face, alongside a series of cross-cutting key themes and issues. Findings – The findings reveal that male-dominated organisational cultures and inflexible working practices are the main barriers to women in the UK construction industry, irrespective of job role or profession. This paper concludes by arguing for a sea-change in the expansion of CPD opportunities for women in managerial, confidence and communication based skills, with accompanying networking and support systems to facilitate the retention and advancement of women in the industry sector. Research limitations/implications – Due to the research approach, the data are not generalisable. Therefore, researchers are advised to research and test the findings with a larger group. Researchers are also recommended to investigate the impact of expanded CPD opportunities for both men and women. Originality/value – The paper puts forward a business case for the advancement of specific CPD training for women, to facilitate the expansion of equality and diversity in the workforce in the UK construction industry.
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