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Alves, S and English, J (2018) Female students’ preparedness for a male-dominated workplace. Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, 16(04), 581–95.

  • Type: Journal Article
  • Keywords: Gender; Women; Health; Socialisation; Construction;
  • ISBN/ISSN: 1726-0531
  • URL: https://doi.org/10.1108/JEDT-03-2018-0039
  • Abstract:
    To provide relevant, appropriate education to the female student population, their perceptions as women and preparedness to work in male-dominated spaces, such as the construction workplace, is essential. The aim of this study, by the Professional Communication Studies and the HIV/AIDS Inclusivity and Change Unit, was to explore whether the students have been appropriately prepared. Design/methodology/approach A qualitative methodology comprising six semi-structured focus groups was conducted with student cohorts in 2016 and 2017. The focus groups were drawn from different courses in 2016 and 2017 and comprised a total of 17 female students between the ages of 20 and 23 years old. Themes were developed by using NVivo for “literal” (Mason, 1996, p. 56) coding prior to manually coding the data using an interpretive lens. Eight dominant themes emerged from the data, which are discussed in the findings. Findings Responses were that the students perceived that their gender is advantageous to their entering the profession, as there is legislative support but that the challenge remains that they need to prove their worth more than their male counterparts. The curriculum fails to prepare and/or sensitise students to respond to gender-based challenges, some of which they have already experienced during vacation work. Research limitations/implications The sample is drawn from one institution. Whilst the university has a diverse student body, it is not confirmed that the sample groups were reflective of the broad base of women employed in the construction field in South Africa. Social implications The findings were aligned with those from developed countries. Whilst some challenges specific to developing countries were cited, they were not considered to be insurmountable. Originality/value Gender research is an important topic for countries which, like South Africa, have legislated that employment of women in construction be increased but do not underscore gender in curriculum development of construction courses in universities.