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Bowes, D C (2020) An aspirations-led capabilities approach to women's career pathways in quantity surveying, Unpublished PhD Thesis, Department of Organisations, Economy and Society, University of Westminster.
- Type: Thesis
- Keywords: careers; gender; interview; quantity survey; questionnaire survey; UK; women
- URL: https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/v1vvq/an-aspirations-led-capabilities-approach-to-women-s-career-pathways-in-quantity-surveying
This thesis explores the career experiences of female quantity surveyors (QSs) in the UK construction industry and examines how they can pursue their aspirations within the structure and the culture of its organisations. There is a lack of research about the careers of female QSs, although there is a lot that focuses on women in the construction industry generally. Research about women’s careers in construction has focused on their underachievement and lack of career success. However, these are based on traditional career patterns with an expectation of upwards progression. In using the Capabilities Approach (CA) of Amartya Sen, the research enables understanding of how women can pursue their aspirations and achieve their own definitions of career success. A capability set for female QSs was established, combinations of capabilities within the set enable pursuit of any stated aspiration. A mixed methods research methodology was adopted, comprising interviews with twenty-seven female QSs working for Network Rail, supplemented by a questionnaire survey of female QSs throughout the wider construction industry. Structural and cultural enablers and constraints were examined by means of interviews with fourteen representatives from a range of construction organisations. The findings build on and contribute to existing knowledge about women in the construction industry. A key finding is the identification of three career pathways. However, female QSs’ aspirations mean that their pathways are not clearly determined, and trajectories are not necessarily linear. For female QSs, career success is having the ability to choose the aspirations they pursue and to change and adapt as circumstances dictate. The research reflects that organisations can either enable or constrain the pursuit of aspirations. Although there are a range of organisations that female QSs can work for, their size and structure are significant in career development and, while many organisations have comprehensive equality policies, their implementation by line managers varies and gender stereotyped assumptions about female QSs’ careers remain. This research also contributes to existing career theory, particularly why a ‘one size fits all’ mechanism of evaluating career trajectories and career success is unsatisfactory. It also establishes that aspirations and individual definitions of career success are instrumental in determining career pathways where previously only organisational factors have been considered.