Why Australian female high school students do not choose construction as a career: A qualitative investigation into value beliefs about the construction industry

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Engineering Education, 2021, 110, (4), pp. 819-839
Issue Date:
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Background: The construction industry remains male dominated, despite the efforts of business and educational institutions to attract women into construction careers. Previous research has examined why female university students study construction management or engineering. To complement this knowledge, there is an opportunity to understand why so many Australian female high school students do not choose to pursue construction-related careers. Purpose: Framed in motivational theory, the purpose of the study was to understand why Australian female high school students do not choose a construction-related career by answering the question: How do the value beliefs of female high school students contribute to a rejection of the construction sector as a career choice?. Design/method: Applying a qualitative methodology, we report on semistructured interviews with a sample of 15 Australian female high school students. Interview transcripts were inductively analyzed to reveal themes that were overlaid onto Eccles' expectancy–value theory to deepen our understanding of the values expressed by students when discussing their reasons for not wanting a career in construction. Results: Results revealed five themes: lack of awareness; lack of self-alignment; effect of male domination; sector esteem; and parental, teacher, and curriculum influence. Responses revealed the range of values contributing to the decision not to consider the construction industry. Conclusion: The paper concludes by suggesting that to increase the participation of young women in the Australian construction industry, the sector should respond to the value beliefs held by female high school students. It should transform the perception of construction into one of a profession that is relevant, valuable, and enjoyable for young women.
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