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Perceptions of gender roles and attitudes towards work amongst male and female operatives in the Scottish construction industry

Agapiou, Andrew (2002) Perceptions of gender roles and attitudes towards work amongst male and female operatives in the Scottish construction industry. Construction Management and Economics, 20 (8). pp. 697-705. ISSN 0144-6193

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Abstract

The predominant image of construction is that of a male-dominated industry requiring brute strength and a good tolerance for outdoor conditions, inclement weather and bad language. Reconciling this image with women's participation in the construction industry is problematic. However, there are early signs of a cultural shift in the industry. This paper presents an empirical review of women's roles within the industry and the ways in which people make sense of their working experience when traditional gender roles are challenged. Based on qualitative research, the study found that men in the industry regarded as the gatekeepers are now finding ways to respond to and make sense of a changing workplace, and the realities that women are now actively encouraged to participate, legally protected against discrimination and more highly represented in non-traditional areas of the construction industry. Women are also findings ways as apprentices and tradespeople to position themselves within this new environment. They identify ways of working that are more likely to ensure a smooth experience for themselves. While the stimulus for the changing face of the workplace is the notion of gender equality, the responses are not gender neutral. All players are trying to negotiate ways to integrate each other into a new environment in a manner which allows them to comfortably reconcile issues of gender.