Influences on Women’s Choices of Careers in Construction: A South African Study
This paper analyses the factors influencing the choices of careers in construction by South African women. The literature on challenges which influence women‟s choices of careers in construction was reviewed and questionnaires were conducted with multiple samples, including construction organisations, construction students and professional women working in construction. The study found that women have a role to play in the construction industry and that they can build successful careers within the sector. However, it was not easy given the various barriers to entry such as gender-based discrimination against them, the harsh work environment of the construction site, the lack of sufficient knowledge about the industry itself and the shortage of successful women in construction as role models. There was evidence of discrimination and sexual harassment. All these factors impacted negatively on the choices of careers in construction by South African women. This study makes a contribution to our understanding of the factors that have marginalised women in a male dominated industry and provides some indication of approaches to attract more women into the sector. It is hoped that it will stimulate debate about how the low representation of women in construction can be addressed and how construction careers for women can be promoted and encouraged and that the resource pool will be enlarged given the prevalent acute skills shortage in the industry.