School of Property, Construction & Project Management

HDR Candidate Profile: Ms Yael Cass


RESEARCH TOPIC: The challenges and opportunities women confront when advancing their careers in the Australian construction industry and how does this vary across trades and professional roles.

Research Supervisors:

Senior: Associate Professor Jan Hayes

Associate: Dr. Christina Scott-Young

Associate: Dr. Beverley Lloyd-Walker


The proposed research seeks to compare the lived experience of women and their male counterparts across trades and professional roles in the Australian Construction Industry (ACI). The aim of this research is to unveil the challenges and opportunities that women face through their career progression and explore the variations across trades and professional roles. Approximately sixty participants will be sought for this research, thirty females and thirty males. Each female will be matched with a comparable male holding a similar position in the ACI. This research will utilize phenomenography as its primary qualitative methodology. It will provide insights into the career progression of women and men in a traditionally male dominated environment through their ‘lived experience’. The main research focus will be on the comparison between women and their male counterparts in the ACI. The comparison will examine the stages in their career progression experience through several key aspects:

  • What challenges and opportunities are experienced when pursuing a career in construction?
  • Do challenges and opportunities vary across trades and professional roles?
  • What ‘external barriers’ impact career progression?
  • What ‘enablers’ impact career progression?
  • Do women’s career opportunities differ from those of men?

Data collection will be conducted through face-to-face semi-structured interviews and will be analysed by defining significant statements, generating of meaning units, and developing essence descriptions to interpret the lived experience of the participants.

Given the breadth and variety of participants who will be sought to take part in this research, it is expected that the results will add to the body knowledge in  areas that is relatively under researched: the comparison of the experience of men and women in similar roles, women in trades, and the impact of ‘external barriers’ on career progression. In addition, the results of this research may add valuable knowledge to the issues of gender diversity and integration.

The results are also expected to provide some practical advice to the ACI’s organizations around the adaptation and amendment of policies and procedures for greater gender diversity. Conducting research of this nature may contribute inclusive evidence about issues surrounding the low participation of women in male dominated environments. The importance of developing the knowledge base in this area is in its ability to enhance the capacity of firms and government authorities to maximise the utilization of this important resource. For the Australian construction industry in particular, it may provide an understanding of issues contributing to the current low participation rate of women in the industry from an inclusive perspective. This will enable approaches to be taken to close the gap and in doing so address skill shortages in the industry, improve productivity, and increase innovation (Galea et al. 2015; Menches & Abraham 2007a). Narrowing Australia’s gender participation gap may also result in higher levels of national GDP (CEDA 2013).

Image: Yael Cass

Author: Yael Cass


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This entry was posted on April 18, 2016 by and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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