Managing Motherhood in the Australian Construction Industry: Work-family Balance, Parental Leave and Part-time Work

Helen Lingard
Jasmine Lin


A survey of women in the Australian construction industrywas undertaken to examine women's work experiencesin construction. Questionnaires were distributed to threehundred women in construction occupations and 109completed and usable questionnaires were returned.Women were found to be seriously under-represented insite-based roles. Site/project engineers worked longer hoursthan other occupational groups and expressed significantlygreater work-family conflict. Lack of flexibility and theinability to balance work and family were common themesin the qualitative comments made by many respondents.Even when women indicated that part time work options andmaternity entitlements were provided by their organizations,many expressed a reluctance to use them and perceivedcareer penalty associated with this usage. It is concludedthat more flexible work schedules and the implementationof family-friendly policies may encourage more women intosite-based roles in construction. The paper concludes thatthe rigid work practices presently in place act as a subtleform of discrimination. The provision of such policies willonly be effective if cultural and attitudinal change is alsoachieved.

Full Text:



Aryee, S. (1993), Dual-earner couples in Singapore: An examination of work and non-work sources of their experienced burnout Human Relations, 46, 1441.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (1994). Focus on Families: Worii and Family Responsibilities, Canberra. AGPS.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (1995). Profile of Workers in the Building Industry. Canberra, AGPS.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (1998). Labour force, Australia, Canberra. AGPS.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (1999). Balancing Wor/t and Caring Responsibilities. Canberra. AGPS.

(2003). Balancing work and family benefits us all. Age, June 26, 12, Fairfax Newspapers, Melbourne.

Balogh, S. & Morris, S. (2003). Test case push for working parents. Australian, June 25, 4. Nationwide News Pty Ltd, Sydney null

9 Becker, P E. & Moen, P (1999). Scaling back: Dual earner couples' work-family strategies. Journal of Marriage and the Fam/Vy, 61, 995-1007."

Bedeian, R. C, Burke, B. G. & Moffett, R. C. (1988). Outcomes of work-family conflict among male and female professionals. Journal of Management, 14, 475491.

Blair-Loy, M & Wharton, A. S. (2002). Employees' use of work-family policies and the workplace social context. Social Forces, 80, 813-845.

Bruck, C. S., Allen, T. D. & Spector, R E. (2002). The relation between work-family conflict and job satisfaction: A finer-grained analysis. Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 60, 336-353.

Burke, R. (1997). Are families damaging to careers? Women in Management Review, 12, 320-324.

Carnoy, M. (1999). The family flexible work and social cohesion at risk. International Labour Review, 138, 411-429.

Cass B. (1993). The Work and Family Debate in Australia. Paper presented at AFfVBCA Conference on Work and Family: The Corporate Challenge, Melbourne, 1 December 1993.

Court G. and Moralee J. (1995). Balancing the building team: gender issues in the building professions. The Institute for Employment Studies, Report 284.

Crabb, A. & Milburn, C. (2003). To have a family or not? It's time to get personal. Age, News, 31 May, 3, Fairfax Newspapers, Melbourne.

Crouter, A. (1984). Spillover from family to work: the neglected side of the work-family interface, l-luman Relations, 37, 425-442, null

19 Dainty, A. R. J., Neale, R. H. and Bagilhole, B. M. (1999). Women's careers in large construction companies: expectations unfulfilled? Career Development International, All, 353-357."

Dainty, A. R, J, Bagilhole, B, M, and Neale, R, H, (2000a). A grounded theory of women's career under-achievement in large UK construction companies. Construction Management and Economics, 18, 239-250,

Dainty A. R, J., Neale R, H, and Bagilhole B, M, (2000b), Comparison of Men's and Women's Careers in U, K Construction Industry. Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice. July 2000, ASCE.

Demo D, H, and Acock A, C, (1993), Family Diversity and the Division of Domestic Labor: How Much Have Things Really Changed? Family Relations, 42, 323-331,

Farouque, F. (2003), Left holding the baby Age, Insight 17 May 7, Fairfax Newspapers, Melbourne, null

24 Fielden, S. L., Davidson, M. J, , Gale, A, W, and Davey, C, L, (2000). Women in construction: The untapped resource. Construction Management and Economics, 18.113-121."

Fielden, S. L., Davidson, M. J., Gale, A. and Davey C. L. (2001). Women, equality and construction. Journal of Management Development, 20, 293-304.

Frone, M. R., Russell, M. & Cooper, M. L. (1992) Antecedents and outcomes of work-family conflict: testing a model of the work-family interface. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 65-78.

Gale, A. W. (1994). Women in non-traditional occupations: The construction industry. Women in Management Review, 9, 3-14.

Glezer, H. & Wolcott, I. (1998). Work and family: Reciprocal effects, Changing families, challenging futures. Sixth Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne 25-27, November 1998.

Glezer. H. and Wolcott I. (2000). 'Conflicting Commitments: Working Mothers and Fathers in Australia', in L. L. Hass, R Hwang and G, Russell eds, Organisational Change and Gender Equity: International Perspectives on Fathers and Mothers at the Workplace. Sage Publications, California, null

30 Grzywacz, J. G. & Marks, N. F. (2000). Family work, work-family spillover and problem drinking during midlife. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 336-348."

Gutek, B. A. (2001). Women and paid work. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 25, 379-393.

Gutek, B. A Seade, S. and Kelpa, L, (1991), Rational versus gender role explanations for work-family conflict. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76, 560-568,

Hegtvedt, K. A., Clay-Warner, J, & Ferrogno, E, D, (2002), Reactions to injustice: Factors affecting workers' resentment toward family-friendly policies. Social Psychology Quartedy, 65, 386-400.

Higgins, C, Duxbury, L. and Johnson, K. L. (2000). Part-time work for women: does it really help balance work and family. Human Resource Management, 39, 17-32.

Hochschild, A. R. (1997a). The time bind: When work becomes home and home becomes work. New York, Metropolitan Books, null

36 Hochschild, A. R. (1997). When work becomes home and home becomes work. California Management Review, 39, 79-97."

Hopkins, K. & McManus, B. (1998). The perception of women in construction by women in construction. ASC Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference, Central Connecticut State University New Britain Connecticut, April 15-18, 1998, 307-320.

Jacobs, J. A. & Gerson, K. (2001). Overworked individuals or overworked families?: Explaining trends in work, leisure and family time. Work and Occupations, 28, 40-63.

Kirby E. L. & Krone, K. J. (2002). 'The policy exists but you can't really use it': Communication and the structuration of work-family policies. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 30, 50-77,

Kosseck, E. E. & Ozeki, C. (1998). Work-family conflict, policies and the job-life satisfaction relationship: A review and directions for organizational behaviour-human resources research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 139-149.

Lewis, S. (2001). Restructuring workplace cultures: the ultimate work-family challenge? Women in Management Review, 16, 21-29.

Lingard, H. & Sublet A. (2002). The impact of job and organisational demands on mahtal and relationship quality among Australian civil engineers. Construction Management and Economics, 20, 507-521.

Lingard, H. & Francis, V. (2001). Work-life issues in the Australian Construction Industry: Findings of a pilot study. Construction Industry Institute of Australia, Queensland University of Technology Brisbane.

Lobel, S. A., & St Clair, L. (1992). Effects of family responsibilities, gender and career identity salience on perfonnance outcomes. Academy of Management Journal, 35, 1057-1069.

Loosemore, M Dainty A. & Lingard, H. (2003). Human resource management in construction projects: Strategic and operational approaches. Spon Press, London.

MacDennid, S. M., Hertzog, J. L., Kensinger, K. B. & Zipp, J. F. (2001). The role of organizational size and industry in job quality and work-family relationsfiips. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 22, 191-216.

McColgan, A. (2000a). Family Friendly Frolics? The Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999. Industrial Law Journal, 29, 125-143.

McColgan, A. (2000b). Missing the Point? The Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000, No 1551). Industrial Law Journal, 29, 260-267.

Morehead, A., Steele, M, Alexander, M., Stephen, K. and Dufftn, L. (1997). Changes at Work: The 1995 Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey Department of Workplace Relations and Small Business, Canberra.

Mauno, S. & Kinnunen, U, (1999). The effects of job stressors on marital satisfaction in Finnish dual-eamer couples. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 20, 879-895. & lt;879::AID-JOB982 & gt;3.0.CO;2-2

Napoli J. (1994). Work and Family Responsibilities: Adjusting the Balance. CHH Australia, North Ryde.

O'Connor, A. (2003). Mothers make the case for part-time work. Age, News, 25 June, 6, Fairfax Newspapers, Melbourne.

Rau, B. L. & Hyland, M, M. (2002). Role conflict and flexible work arrangements: The effects on applicant attraction. Personnel Psychology, 55, 111-136.

Roehling, R V., Roehling, M. V. & Moen, P (2001). The relationship between work-life policies and practices and employee loyalty: A life course perspective. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 22, 141-170.

Roxburgh, S. (2002). Racing through life: The distribution of time pressures by roles and role resources among full-time workers. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 23, 121-145.

Schneer, J. A. and Reitman, F. (2002). Managerial life without a wife: Family structure and managerial career success. Journal of Business Ethics, 37, 25-38.

Small, S. A. and Riley, D. (1990). Toward a multidimensional assessment of work spillover into family life. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, 51-61.

Squirchuk, R. and Bourke. J. (2000) 'From Equal Opportunity to Family-Friendly Policies and Beyond', in L. L. Haas, P Hwang and G. Russell eds. Organisational Change and Gender Equity: International Perspectives on Fathers and Mothers at the Workplace. Sage Publications, California.

Strachan, G. & Burgess, J. (1998). The 'family fhendly' workplace: Origins, meaning and application at Australian workplaces. tntemationalJoumal of Manpower, 19, 250-265.

Tausig, M. & Fenwick, R. (2001). Unbinding time: alternate work schedules and work-life balance. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 22, 101-119.

Tesch R. (1990). Qualitative Research: Analysis types and software tools. New York: The Falmer Press.

Thomas, L. T. & Ganster, D. C. (1995). Impact of family-supportive work variables on work-family conflict and strain: A control perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80, 6-15.

Watkins, K. E, (1995). Changing managers'defensive reasoning about work/family conflicts. Journal of Management Development, 14, 77-88.

Wolcott, I. (1990). The structure of work and the work of families. Family Matters, 26, April, 32-38.