Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Business


Construction engineering is one of the industries in Australia where researchers and practitioners attempt to close the gender gap via various policies and practices. However, even after some decades, the construction-engineering industry in Australia still reports low female participation, and the problem remains unsolved. Although a few studies have focused on finding why the current policies and practices fail to increase the female representation in male-dominant industries, there is very little use of an “inclusion lens” to identify how to retain women while enhancing their sense of inclusion at work. It is believed that unlike other concepts, such as diversity, equality, and equity, the subjective nature of the concept of “inclusion” necessitates a critical discussion to form a sound theoretical base. Although previous studies have provided conceptual and quantitative refinement of the inclusion constructs (i.e., fostering a sense of belongingness and acceptance of individual uniqueness), there is a lack of emphasis on theoretical and empirical explanations of or suggestions for a suitable mechanism to achieve workplace inclusion, especially in highly gendered workplace contexts. Hence, the purpose of this thesis is to explore the overarching esearch question: How can gender inclusion be achieved in the construction-engineering industry?

To answer the research question, this study employed a constructivist, grounded-theory approach. Data were collected using in-depth interviews with 35 senior managers, human resources managers, and engineers working in engineering consultancy firms, construction firms, research and education organisations, government regulatory bodies, and a professional association in Australia. Three data-collection phases were carried out from December 2018 to January 2020. Concurrent data analysis was executed throughout the data-collection period.

FoR codes (2008)

1503 BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT, 150305 Human Resources Management, 150311 Organisational Behaviour



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.