MOTIVES AND CAREER ASPIRATIONS OF BUILDING ENGINEERING STUDENTS WITH A GENDER PERSPECTIVE

E. Navarro-Astor, B. Millán Romeo

Universitat Politècnica de València (SPAIN)
The construction industry, characterized as hazardous, hard, dangerous, and dirty, has traditionally been considered as suited only for men; hence, women are not generally encouraged to make professional careers in it. As in most countries, the Spanish construction industry is proportionally the most-gender segregated sector in the economy, with a proportion of women in the sector that has never risen above 9%. These women are mostly found in administrative and technical positions, and also in posts related to health and safety supervision. Many of them have a University degree in Building Engineering.

Up until now there has there has been little research focusing on career motives and aspirations of students studying Building Engineering in Spain. Why do they choose Building Engineering? What do they want to achieve in their professional lives? Is gender important in their career plans?
By means of written narratives from 40 students (21 women) studying Building Engineering at the Universitat Politècnica de València, we collected data about their motivations and career aspirations. In-depth interviews were also carried out with 6 of them.
Results show that participants chose Building Engineering for different reasons: they were interested in construction, they had family working in the construction industry and were influenced by them and they liked the expected contents of the university degree (certain subjects). There were no gender differences in this respect.

As regards career aspirations, female students show great interest in being professionally acknowledged and successful, and prefer occupations carried out on site such as site management. They see themselves as capable and skilled to perform as well as their male colleagues, and do not foresee barriers.