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Why do women like working in building conservation?

Buxton, Ali, Turrell, Pat and Wilkinson, Sara 2004, Why do women like working in building conservation?, in FIG 2004 : Proceedings of the 2004 International Federation of Surveyors Conference, [FIG], [Athens, Greece].

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Title Why do women like working in building conservation?
Author(s) Buxton, Ali
Turrell, Pat
Wilkinson, Sara
Conference name International Federation of Surveyors. Conference (2004 :Athens, Greece)
Conference location Athens, Greece
Conference dates 22-27 May 2004
Title of proceedings FIG 2004 : Proceedings of the 2004 International Federation of Surveyors Conference
Editor(s) [Unknown]
Publication date 2004
Conference series International Federation of Surveyors Conference
Publisher [FIG]
Place of publication [Athens, Greece]
Summary There is a perception that Building Conservation as a career is different from the mainstream, and it appears to be more attractive to women - at whatever level - than many other careers in the construction industry. Whilst recruitment and publicity can be targeted, the culture within the construction industry can be a barrier to entry for anyone that is "different." As Clara Greed (1999) discovered in her research "the traits, beliefs and lifestyle peculiar to the construction tribe" can inhibit the entry to the industry of a number of groups outside the traditional pool. The growth of women in the workforce generally (some 50% according to Turrell et al, 2000) is nowhere near being matched within the construction industry as a whole - the Construction Industry Board placed it at around 8.6% in 2000 across all positions. The various UK industry and professional bodies are actively supporting the need to attract women, with the CITB saying they want a 10% year on year increase in participation, the RICS have their own Raising the Ratio working group and the RIBA have carried out research to find out "why women leave architecture."

Of course the whole of the industry is not unfriendly to women - there are a number of us who have been in the industry for many years and recognise it as a fulfilling and exciting career - a number of women work as surveyors working on historic buildings. The initiatives that are working towards change might have something to learn from Building Conservation - while the shortage of skills is just as severe in work with historc buildings - this area of work holds an attraction to women, not found elsewhere. This paper draws on research carried out to explore some of the reasons for this.

The study involved sending a questionnaire to twenty women already working in Building Conservation (the response rate was over 100%) and arranging for questionnaires to be completed by school students (male and female) choosing university courses in one school (60 questionnaires sent out, with 35 returned at a response rate of 58%)

The research showed that the majority women working in Building Conservation did not agree that men heavily dominated their sector of the industry, whereas within other areas of the construction industry men make up approximately 90% of the workforce. The research found that women often perceived the Construction Industry to be 'cut-throat', 'egotistical' and 'financially beneficial', whereas they thought Building Conservation required 'patience', 'care' and 'attention to detail'.

Of the women who took part in the research, 87% were working in Building Conservation because of a personal interest , and the main aspect of that attarction was history and architecture. The study examined attitudes of school students choosing careers and the research shows that when male and female sixth form students were told what Building Conservation was about and what it involved, 43% would consider a career in it and 49% would be interested in talking part in a work experience placement working with historic buildings. The shortage of people working in Building Conservation could be reduced if more people were educated about the profession in a way relevant to their skills and interests. In order to assist this action, the study examined ways to introduce Building Conservation careers to school girls and drew on the initiatives that the university is doing to promote careers in the built environment to schoolgirls.
Language eng
Field of Research 120102 Architectural Heritage and Conservation
Socio Economic Objective 970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design
HERDC Research category E1.1 Full written paper - refereed
Copyright notice ©2004, FIG
Free to Read? Yes
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