Women in Construction Management: Identification of the Most Effective Factors in Attracting and Retaining Freshmen and Sophomore Level Students
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Despite the several initiatives developed to encourage women to enter and remain in Construction Management (CM) programs, the percentage of women in CM continues to be low. This study was focused on identifying the factors and programs which are most effective in attracting and retaining female students in CM degree programs based on surveys administered to 40 female CM freshmen and sophomore students in five selected universities. Awareness of career opportunities in the construction industry, internships completed before entering the degree program, and field trips to job sites were reported by students to be the three factors which were the most positively influential in their decision to enter the construction management programs. Similarly, construction lab classes, scholarships and fellowships, and internships were identified as the most effective in retaining female CM students. The study also supports existing literature that there is a general lack of knowledge among high school students about the career opportunities and educational qualifications required in the construction industry. Several study participants advocated the need for high school initiatives such as shadowing programs to Construction Science classes and schools, mentoring programs, and workshops for high school students; and better advertisement. Finally, some guidelines on how to improve advertisement of the industry to recruit females into CM programs are also provided. Based on the results obtained, advertisements must emphasize career opportunities in the Commercial and Residential sectors of the industry in terms of job profiles (both field and office) and job security. Similarly, the target population should be made aware of the coursework of CM degree programs and the educational qualifications required for a career in the industry. Scholarships and fellowships offered should also be emphasized.