Investigating a Male-Dominated Space: Female Students’ Perceptions of Gendered Cultures in Construction Workplaces

  • Mariam AkinloluEmail author
  • Theo C. Haupt
Conference paper


Despite its significant contribution regarding employment in South Africa, women remain severely underrepresented in the construction industry. Men have become the primary beneficiaries of these job opportunities and the determinants of the construction industry’s culture. This extreme gender stratification and macho nature of construction work has been identified as one of the main obstacles influencing women’s career decisions and forms the basis for their significantly low participation in the construction industry. This study explores female students’ perceptions and experiences of gendered cultures in male-dominated spaces, such as the construction workplace. The study adopted a quantitative descriptive survey design. Thirty-five purposively sampled female students, across different levels of study, completed a questionnaire with closed-ended questions. The samples were drawn from student cohorts enrolled in the construction studies; civil engineering, property development, land surveying and civil engineering program. Responses were that a majority of the students experienced consistent masculine gendered cultures or practices at their workplaces. The experiences presented in the study could be adapted to promote and enhance the inclusiveness of all genders. The study is a reflection of female students’ memoirs of experiences at the workplace. The sample is drawn from only one university in South Africa and is not confirmed as a representation of women employed in the construction profession in South Africa.


Construction workplace cultures Gender Male-dominated work Retention Women in construction 



The authors greatly acknowledge the support of the National Research Fund.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EngineeringUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  2. 2.Faculty of EngineeringMangosuthu University of TechnologyDurbanSouth Africa

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