Sense of Belonging of Women in Construction: Insights from Focus Groups

Monica Quezada-Espinoza, Marcela Silva, Carolina Alvarado

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

Abstract

The sense of belonging of women in male-dominated spheres is a factor that hinders the closing of gender gaps. An extensive body of research that analyzes the sense of belonging of women who work in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics concludes that the improvement of this factor increases the self-confidence, academic performance, and retention rates of women therein. The field of construction engineering is one of the most male-dominated professions and it is, therefore, important to understand the way in which women who pursue a career in this particular field conceive of their sense of belonging. Furthermore, an evaluation of the experiences of such women and how these have impacted and influenced their career and contributed to their sense of belonging to the field of construction would enhance the aforementioned understanding. Accordingly, this research analyzes the perspectives of women related to a construction engineering program, as students, alumni working in the field, and faculty in a construction program, regarding their sense of belonging. We categorize their experiences and their proposed solutions to improve that sense of belonging of women in the field of construction. Through a qualitative approach, the main findings are reported on three focus groups held with ten women, all students, former students, and teaching professionals from a Construction Engineering degree program at a private Chilean university. This methodology presents results regarding participant perception of their sense of belonging, their positive and negative experiences in an environment related to construction, whether in the campus or work context, and their proposed solutions for enhancing this sense of belonging within the sector. Despite differences in participants' life stages, they all believe that self-confidence, recognition from peers and leaders, social interactions, and knowledge and skills are critical factors that improve their sense of belonging.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2023
Event2023 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - The Harbor of Engineering: Education for 130 Years, ASEE 2023 - Baltimore, United States
Duration: 25 Jun 202328 Jun 2023

Keywords

  • focus groups
  • sense of belonging
  • women in construction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering

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