Does Vocational Guidance Become Gendered When Discussing Construction?

Valerie Francis, Adele Prosser


Abstract

The Australian construction industry is highly reliant on the local labour force and those employed within it undertake a wide variety of roles ranging from labouring to management. In the past 20 years construction has seen record levels of employment; however lack of skilled labour is becoming problematic. Australia, like most industrialised countries, has an ageing population due to falling birth rates, increased life expectancy and the ageing of the large post-World War II ‘baby boom’ generation. Deciding on a career is one of the most fundamental activities in a young person’s life and the role of the school career counsellor is crucial in this process. This research examined secondary school career counsellor’s knowledge of construction, their perceptions of it as a good career choice and how often they directed male and female students to investigate construction as a career. Comparisons using paired t-tests found career counsellors perceived construction to be a better career option for young men, and directed them more frequently than women, to explore construction careers. The findings also indicate that an educative model, where students and counsellors gain firsthand knowledge from people working in the industry, may counter negative gender stereotypes associated with this area of work and encourage more young people, both male and female, to consider a career in the construction industry.

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