Journal Articles

Exploratory study of recruitment and retention of women in the construction industry


The U.S. construction industry is facing a labor shortage. As the current workforce ages and demand for new workers rises, the cost of construction is expected to increase dramatically. Encouraging more women to pursue careers in construction-related fields could minimize the effect of this shortage. However, prior research shows that construction is an unattractive career path for women because of factors such as jobsite sanitation, poor work-life balance, and gender bias. With these factors unlikely to change rapidly, how can existing recruitment and retention procedures be improved to attract more women into construction-related careers? This exploratory study considers the demographics and motivating factors for women who are pursuing a career in the architecture, engineering, construction, and operations (AECO) industry. Based on survey questionnaire results from 163 women, cross-tabulation analyses were conducted and no significant association was found between women’s desire to remain in the industry and various factors, including marital status, source of initial interest in construction, mentoring experience, financial compensation, or participation in professional groups. However, women in the 18–24 and over 65 age groups were significantly more likely than those between the ages of 25 and 64 to express a desire to leave their construction careers.

Respondents in executive and principal roles classified their communication style as dominant significantly more often than respondents in entry-, junior-, and senior-level roles. Additionally, respondents perceiving that women comprised between 21 and 50% of their company more frequently reported that those employers had programs for recruiting and retaining women when compared with respondents perceiving a lower or higher percentage. These findings provide some exploratory insight for educators and practitioners who seek to increase the proportion of women participating in the construction workforce.


Publication Date: 04/01/2018

Source: Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice


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