Watts, J. ). "Leaders of Men: Women Assessment

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Watts, J. (2009). "Leaders of men: women 'managing' in construction." Work, employment & society 23(3), pp. 512-30.

The issue of female equality in the workplace has persisted for well over a century, and despite enormous progress in the rights of women both at work and in larger society during the twentieth century, workplace equality -- especially in the form of female access management and leadership positions -- is still a highly contentious issue (Watts 2009). Numerous studies have shown that despite new organizational cultures and ethics that are more supportive to the idea of women playing an equal role at all levels of the company, traditionally masculine values and expectations are still required in order to attain top leadership positions (Watts 2009). This is seen as a major contributing factor to the current situation in which women are hugely disproportionately represented in management and officer positions in most companies and industries as a whole (Watts 2009).

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This logic is extended still further to specific industries and businesses; in areas such as catering and retail that are traditionally considered a part of the "feminine" domain, women are far more likely to be promoted to leadership positions than they are in other industries (Watts 2009). The other side of this, logically, is that women are dramatically less likely to be promoted to or otherwise attain leadership positions in companies that are traditionally part of a more masculine sphere (Watts 2009). As the construction industry is comprised of, according to one study, 995 male employees, female leadership in the industry is scant (Watts 2009).

Aims and Objectives

TOPIC: Assessment on Watts, J. (2009). "Leaders of Men: Women Assignment

The stated aim of the author in this qualitative research study, "was to explore women's professional experience of working in construction" (Watts 2009, pp. 519). Having already conducted an extensive literature review and an examination of relevant statistical information form the industry, the researcher set out to identify and define the perceptions of situations, attitudes, and organizational culture that female managers and leaders and workers in construction projects and companies held in regards to their acceptance and experience on the job. Identifying attitudinal inequalities and the specific difficulties that women experience in efforts to attain leadership position are examined, with the primary objective of the research study being the development of a more comprehensive and explicit understanding of equality issues from a feminist perspective in the construction industry, with the possibility of practical proposals made for increasing equality (Watts 2009).

Research Questions

As the research was entirely qualitative and based on personal responses in semi-structure interviews, the specific research questions investigated in this study were subject to some adjustment and clarification during the study itself. Broader research questions including determining the desire to achieve management positions, difficulties in achieving those positions, and difficulties working in leadership roles in both the design and building aspects of the construction industry (Watts 2009). Specific environmental changes were also assessed.


The rationale for this study and the approach used is largely provided by the background and context information presented by the author of this research study and summarized above. Quantitative analysis reveals large discrepancies in terms of gender equality in the construction industry, despite other qualitative studies that show an increase in the awareness of equality issues and explicit attempts at organizational change to promote greater equality (Watts 2009). The interview methods was used in this study because it allowed for the direct perceptions of female construction workers, managers, and executives to be shared in a more visible manner that could perhaps explain the discrepancies found in quantitative analyses of construction industry gender equality (Watts 2009).

Key Concepts

Several key concepts were employed in or emerged form the research, the definitions of which within the context and framework of the study were of great importance and illustrate the subjective difficulties of defining gender equality in the construction industry. Diversity is a concept consciously understood on one level yet either misunderstood or misapplied in practical circumstances, according to the research findings (Watts 2009). In both extrinsic and intrinsic ways, organizations attempting to encourage greater diversity can actually create situations that are more hostile to minority groups (Watts 2009). Such issues made the definition of equality equally ambiguous (Watts 2009).

Management style was another key concept addressed in the study, and its relationship to the acceptance and encouragement of female leadership was identified. This concept is essentially defined in the study as the basic attitudes and values apparent in constructions management and executives, often as defined in previous literature and mediated through previous understandings (Watts 2009). Power relations were also examined in the study, defined as the registered visibility of an individual or group of individuals in specific situations and within organizations as a whole (Watts 2009). This and other key concepts are also highly tied to the concepts of roles within specific organizations and within the construction industry as whole; the definition of specific perceived and desired roles formed part of the central research question in this study (Watts 2009).


The methodology employed in this study was the use of semi-structured interviews conducted with women currently employed in both the design and building aspects of the construction industry, including several board members, executives, and women who expressed no interest in attaining leadership positions (Watts 2009). The broad situations and circumstances of the women interviewed in this study, many of whom had school-aged children while others did not, was meant to provide a more comprehensive view of the gender equality situation in the construction industry (Watts 2009). Interviews were conducted in the workplaces of these women and were audiotaped (Watts 2009).

The ethicality of the research methodology deserves some special comment, both by the research and here, for the deliberate semi-deceptiveness of the researcher. Though knowingly approaching this research from a feminist framework, the researcher hid this framework from the participants and thus somewhat obfuscated the transparency of the research, with definite ethical implications (Watts 2009). The industry as whole and the women working in it in particular have an established distrust and dislike of the feminist perspective, a conclusion that was reinforced by the study at hand according to the researcher, and making this framework and perspective explicit during the interview process could have jeopardized the entire research study (Watts 2009). Though explicitly and directly seeking out information regarding the female's experience on a construction industry jobsite or board room, the reasons behind the study and the theoretical framework and perspective being applied to the data during analysis and presentation was not made explicit (Watts 2009).

Weaknesses and Strengths

The primary weaknesses in this research study are conceptual, which leaves the basic results intact but severely questions the methods of analysis applied and the conclusions drawn from the data. Having worked in the construction industry for a self-reported seventeen years, there is necessarily some degree of bias in the researcher's stance; the perception of an anti-feminist stance in the industry's working women that is supposedly reinforced by this research is questionable, given the researcher's background.

In addition, claims made from the feminine perspective such as, "women managers at all levels will only survive if they…subordinate home and family to company and career" are unsupported by comparison to male counterparts; there is no indication that male managerial success is not equally -- or less equally -- affected by an increased importance of home and family (Watts 2009, pp. 513). The overall perspective of the research study and the researcher is highly evident from the context and background research provided, and points to a clear expectation in regards to certain issues and perceptions that are -- unsurprisingly -- fulfilled by the research conducted and the data collected. Research bias, in other words, is a major weakness in both the context in which the data is presented and the analysis which was… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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