Impact of Gender on Construction Managers' Motivators

Impact of Gender on Construction Managers' Motivators
Margaret Newquist and David Arditi | November 2016
 
 
Introduction
 
Motivated workers perform better and contribute more to the overall success of a company.Understanding what motivates workers enables organizations to tailor their human resource practices for hiring, retaining and growing their employees.Industries looking to diversify their workforce, such as construction,must understand what motivates women in order to attract and retain the best female talent.There is a business benefit to this goal. In 2014, Forbes reported that 27 percent of leaders were women in the companies that rank in the top 20 percent relative to financial performance. Only 19 percent of leaders were women in the companies that ranked in the bottom 20 percent (Adams 2014). Women will not reach leadership positions unless companies understand what motivates them.
 
Women currently make up almost half of the U.S. workforce; their participation grew from 43 percent in 1985 to 47 percent in 2010.From 1985 to 2010, women's participation in the construction industry grew from eight percent to nine percent. Women in managerial and professional positions grew from 15.8 percent to 31.3percent of the total population of women in construction during the same period (Women Workers in Construction 2013). The 31.3 percent represents only 2.8 percent
of the workforce in the industry.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 821,000 construction managers were employed in theU.S. in 2013, approximately 22,988 of whom are women. In order to continue to attract women to the managerial ranks, it is important to understand women’s motivators.The results of the study presented here may help shape hiring and retention practices.
 
Methodology of the Study
 
A questionnaire was developed which focused on 12 key motivation factors sourced from the literature.The survey was designed to assess the motivation of an individual relative to these 12 key factors. In addition to an assessment of motivation factors, the survey sought information about the respondents’ gender and years of experience in the industry.
 
The survey was sent to more than 500 female and male industry professionals. The potential respondents were sourced through through CMAA,the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)Midwest region, and alumni of the Purdue University Construction Engineering and Management Division. The response rate was slightly over 20 percent, with a total of 110 surveys completed and returned, 58 by women and 52 by men. All 110 surveys were used in the analysis. The large majority of the respondents work as construction managers for general contractors and CM firms.
 
Each motivator was rated on a five-point scale, from not important (1) to very important(5). The weighted average of each motivator was calculated and the motivators ranked in importance from highest to lowest. The data were analyzed by comparing the rankings of the motivators by gender and years of experience in the industry.
 
Results and discussion – Gender, Work Experience and Motivation
 

A table presenting the full rankings is shown below. For women, regardless of work experience, “feeling valued” is the most important motivator, while men rank this motivator fourth.Given that there are few women in construction management positions, and that the male dominated culture may be at times dismissive of the work done by women, it is not surprising that women are strongly motivated if their supervisors acknowledge their presence and services and appreciate their work.

 
 MOTIVATORS
RANKING OF FEMALE
RESPONDENTS
RANKING OF MALE
RESPONDENTS
Work Experience of  20 Years or Less
Work Experience of  21 or More Years
Work Experience of  20 Years or Less 
Work Experience of 21 or More Years
 Camaraderie or Peer  Motivation
11
9
7
7
 Feeling Valued
 
1
1
4
8
 Satisfaction With Direct  Supervisor
8
7
9
11
 Intrinsic Desire to do a  Good Job
2 2 1 1
 Having All the Tools to Be  Successful In Your Job
4
6
11
10
 Feeling Encouraged and  Recognized
9
9 12
12
 Having a Real Impact
 
3
8
5
4
 Opportunity to Grow  Professionally
10
11
3 5
 Meeting Client/Customer  Needs
5
3
2
3
 Money and Benefits
 
7 11 10 2
 Positive Company  Management
6
5
6
6
 Belief in the Company
 
12 3 8 9
Table 1: Motivation Factors and Work Experience by Gender
 
For men the “intrinsic desire to do a good job” is number one regardless of the extent of their work experience, with women ranking this motivator second. Asad and Dainty (2005) also found that professional employees demonstrate a strong desire for intrinsic rewards such as self-satisfaction from the work done, challenging tasks and self- accomplishment.
 
Men with work experience of less than 20 years and women with work experience with more than 21 years rank “money and benefits” close to the bottom of the importance scale. This is not surprising given that the many studies summarized by Chamorro-Premuzic (2013) have shown that money is not a prime motivator. On the other hand, men with work experience of more than 21 years rank this motivator second, perhaps because men are not subject to the wage gap that women experience.Women with less than 20 years of work experience rank this factor lower but not too low (seventh) because among younger workers, the earnings differences between women and men may not be as great; for example, in 2009, women earned as much as 89 percent as men among workers 25 to 34 years old.
 
Women with less than 20 years’ work experience rank “camaraderie or peer motivation” next to last because they are often the only women on their jobsite or in their office and find it harder to fit into the social culture. In fact, Menches and Abraham (2007) found that the single largest contributor to women leaving the construction industry – and women failing to choose construction as a viable career –is the male-dominated culture in construction.This motivator is less important for men (seventh).
 
”Satisfaction with your direct supervisor” is ranked close to the bottom of the importance scale by men while women ranked it a little higher, which may be explained by the idea that some women may have had supportive supervisors to help them navigate their career. This finding is similar to a finding in an Australian study where the importance of “good relationship with my supervisor” was the cause of disagreement between male and female respondents(Gilbert and Walker 2001).
 
Conclusion
 
This paper set out to explore whether gender has an impact on the motivation of those working in construction management.Overall, the results indicate that men and women are motivated by the “intrinsic desire to do a good job.” In looking deeper at the motivation of women, “feeling valued”is ranked as women’s top motivation factor regardless of their years of experience in the industry, whereas men rank “feeling valued” as much less important to them, a key difference between the genders.Understanding how to make women feel valued for the work they do can help companies craft recruiting and retention programs specifically targeted at women.Progressive solutions such as flexible work hours and alternative career paths for women with families may help by illustrating the company cares for the needs of the female workforce. Mentoring programs and leadership development opportunities can further motivate women by allowing them to see an investment in their growth. Finally,recognizing that not only gender but years in the workforce impact the motivation of CMs can help companies recruit and retain all the best talent.

Margaret Newquist & David Arditi, are from Illinois Institute of Technology's Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering 

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