Why do South African women choose careers in construction?


  • Theo Haupt Mississippi State University, USA
  • Kolosa Madikizela Cape Peninsula University of Technology


Discrimination, Education, Gender, Built environment, Career choices, Culture, Cultural background


This article analyses the factors influencing the choices of careers in construction by South African women.
Literature was reviewed on challenges facing women in construction which contribute to their choices of careers in a traditionally male-dominated industry such as construction. Questionnaires were conducted with multiple samples that included construction organisations, construction students and professional women working in construction. The study found that women had a role to play in the construction industry and that they could build successful careers within the sector. However, this was not easy given the various barriers to entry such as gender-based discrimination against them, the harsh work environment of the construction, the lack of sufficient knowledge about the industry itself, and the lack of successful women in construction as role models. There was evidence of discrimination and sexual harassment. All these factors impacted negatively on the choices of careers in construction by South African women. The study stimulates debate about how the low representation of women in construction can be addressed and how construction careers for women can be promoted and encouraged. This article makes a contribution to understanding the factors that have marginalised women in a male-dominated industry and provides some indication of approaches to attract more women into the sector. Consequently, the resource pool will be enlarged given the prevalent acute skills shortage in the industry.


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How to Cite

Haupt, T. and Madikizela, K. (2009) “Why do South African women choose careers in construction?”, Acta Structilia, 16(2), pp. 46-68. Available at: https://journals.ufs.ac.za/index.php/as/article/view/176 (Accessed: 7December2021).



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