Deconstructing Gender Stereotyping in Construction

By September 9, 20182018

Women in construction blog

The construction industry has long been, and still is, a predominantly male environment. A large part of the reason for this is in the gender stereotyping where the gender roles prescribed in the past were largely influenced by social norms prevalent at that time.

Roles that involved more social contact, dealing with a team, physical exertion and travel were largely assigned to men while women were the homemakers. Thankfully, we have come a long way from that point and society has evolved to allow for men and women to explore all kinds of roles in a much more inclusive way.

Where once it was assumed women were not capable of taking on a role that required physical exertion, this has also been debunked with more women taking on roles in the armed forces or as professional sportspeople.

Gender is just a biological definition and whether we allow it to limit or empower ourselves is up to us. The glass ceiling is getting shattered across the world in many diverse so why should the construction industry be any different?

The construction industry has been devoid of women for far too long and its largely exclusionary nature means that women often face a gender bias. Some of the biggest challenges women have to overcome are the long-held perceptions of female stereotypes, pay scale disparity and a lack of opportunities. And while there is a marked improvement, there is still room for things to get better.

Hiring preferences
While this region is a fascinating melting pot of work cultures with people in the construction industry coming from many different backgrounds in terms of education and society, it also brings with it a legacy of their environment and the social mind-sets prevalent in their regions. This infuses a subconscious bias in both the employer and the applicant.

In some cultures employers still think twice before considering a woman for a site job while women still think before applying for a role on site because of their own inhibitions.

Sadly, preferences in hiring and employment relations often reproduce and replicate patriarchal systems from other countries which often excludes women. This has to change.

Embracing change
Educating people on equality and fairness at grassroots level can ensure increasing diversity and balanced pay scales within the workplace in the future. Empowering the girl child in her growing years will help overcome inhibitions and allow for more confident females to enter the industry.

What is also helping is that boys are getting educated on par in diverse fields, which helps reduce the gender disparity as boys see girls as equals. This allows for a healthier and fair respect of both the genders. Old-school thought processes, which were predominant in the earlier days, are now giving way to a fair and equal work culture and in the coming years we will see an influx of capable professionals who will enter the industry with less gender stereotypes.

Additionally there has been a marked improvement in the construction industry that has allowed for better and safer working conditions. This can, and has, encouraged females to enter the industry.

A work culture that embraces performance-based achievements, and not just presenteeism in office, can help in overcoming these challenges. Of course being present at meetings and other essential requirements of the role have to be fulfilled. Productivity is essential in all scenarios.

by Swati Rokade, Senior Architect