CIVIL ENGINEERING 365 ALL ABOUT CIVIL ENGINEERING



The special collection on Diversity and Inclusion in the Engineering-Construction Industry is available in the ASCE Library (https://ascelibrary.org/jmenea/diversity_inclusion_engineering_construction).The construction industry is facing significant challenges in hiring and retaining skilled labor, and this labor shortage has been forecasted to worsen. To solve this issue, increasing diversity and inclusion is imperative for the future workforce of the engineering-construction industry. Nonetheless, the industry continues to struggle to develop a diverse construction workforce and attract or sustain workers from underrepresented groups. The underrepresented groups include gender, race, and ethnicity (i.e., African Americans/Blacks, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native Pacific Islanders), disability, LGBTQ+, first-generation college, and socioeconomic status in the United States (National Science Foundation 2021).The challenges in developing a diverse construction workforce are many, and the solutions are complex. Many studies have offered insights into issues such as segregation and inequality, labor shortage, lack of diversity and discrimination in the construction industry, and the education of engineering students in underrepresented groups. However, more rigorous research and evidence-based practices are still needed to help the industry enhance diversity and inclusion in its workforce.To achieve this objective, this special collection establishes the scholarly foundations and evidence-based practices for fostering diversity and inclusion in the engineering-construction industry. In particular, this special collection focuses on the research areas including (1) diversity and inclusion in the construction workforce, (2) supporting contexts for workforce diversity and inclusion, (3) implications of workforce diversity and inclusion, (4) career development of underrepresented groups in the industry, and (5) the underrepresented groups in engineering-construction education programs. It contributes to enhancing the diversity and inclusion of all underrepresented populations in the construction workforce.Since the announcement of the call for papers for this special collection in May 2019, 40 extended abstracts were received. Authors of the 26 accepted abstracts were invited to submit full papers. Twenty-three full papers were received. After a rigorous peer-review process, 16 papers were accepted for publication and included in the special collection. The guest editors also examined the papers published in the Journal of Management of Engineering (JME) between 2000 and this special collection’s call for papers in May 2019. Among the 11 relevant articles identified, seven were added to this special collection, given their alignment with the scope and aim of this collection. In total, 23 articles, including those newly accepted under this call and those previously published in JME, are included in this special collection.In summary, at the time of this announcement and among the 23 articles included, six focused on diversity and inclusion in the construction workforce, eight on supporting contexts for workforce diversity and inclusion, two on implications of workforce diversity and inclusion, one on career development of underrepresented groups, and six on the underrepresented groups in the engineering-construction education programs. This announcement summarizes and highlights the 23 papers that were collected by 2021.Diversity and Inclusion in the Construction WorkforceSix articles included in this collection focused on issues such as the attraction and retention of underrepresented groups, affirmative action, discrimination, inequality, inequity, bias, segregation, and challenges in workplaces.Gibson et al. (2003) investigated the aging and labor shortage issues in the construction workforce. They suggested hiring more from underrepresented groups as one of the solutions. They also recommended exploring the reasons for the underrepresentation and low retention of women and minorities.Using databases from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Data USA, and the US Census Bureau, Shrestha et al. (2020) analyzed the employment levels and wage distributions in the United States by industry and occupation level with a focus on gender difference. Specifically, they confirmed that meager participation from women and a significant gender wage gap still exist with no sign of improvement. They also identified the top construction occupations among 192 occupations with noticeable gender gaps in terms of employment (brick masons, plumbers, carpenters, roofers, and glaziers) and wages (glaziers, insulation workers, drywall installers, and floor finishers), which need attention from leaders in the construction industry.Utilizing the American Community Survey (ACS) database, Manesh et al. (2020a) conducted the temporal and spatial association analysis of the gender wage gap in architecture, civil engineering, and construction occupations. They found that there is no global spatial autocorrelation in the gender wage gaps; however, they identified the local clusters and outliers in both architecture and engineering (A&E) and construction occupations. They also reported that New Mexico and North Dakota had the highest wage gaps (lower outliers) in 2007 and 2011 in A&E occupations; Maine and Rhode Island had the highest wage gaps in 2007 in construction occupations.Hickey and Cui (2020) quantified the gender distribution in the executive teams of the top firms in the US engineering-construction industry. They found that women are significantly underrepresented in US construction executive leadership positions (3.9%), and most construction companies lack gender diversity in leadership culture and mission statements.Applying the lenses of organizational justice theory and inattention theory, Baker et al. (2021) investigated the reasons for the ineffectiveness of the existing formal gender equality and diversity initiatives (GEDIs) in large Australian construction companies. The results show that leaders make decisions based on their personal views and the need to meet legislative and industry requirements. They are indifferent to solving the true systematic inequality and diversity issues.Maurer et al. (2021) examined job turnover in the civil engineering workforce to understand the trends affecting the retention of female supervisors. They found that, compared with their male counterparts, female civil engineers are underrepresented in supervisory positions, are much more likely to leave their jobs, and experience more challenges on their career paths.Supporting Contexts for Workforce Diversity and InclusionEight articles included in this collection focused on the contexts, including the organizational contexts (e.g., culture and compensation mechanisms), that support workforce diversity and inclusion.Yates (2001) explored the obstacles that nontraditional engineering-construction professionals from underrepresented groups encounter. The author suggested several improvements to mitigate these issues, such as providing proper role models, developing innovative recruitment and retention programs, and establishing systems to address discrimination and harassment.Loosemore and Waters (2004) investigated the differences in the sources and levels of stress facing male and female professionals in the construction industry. They found that female professionals reported slightly lower levels of stress than their male counterparts. Their sources of stress are often related to personal development opportunities, salary rates, business travels, and others.Dainty and Lingard (2006) examined the impact of indirect discrimination on women’s careers in the construction industry. They identified that a male career model (expecting full-time professionals with unbroken careers), inflexible work arrangements, and adverse organizational diversity climate prevail in the construction industries in the United Kingdom and Australia.Perrenoud et al. (2020) identified the most influential factors in attracting and retaining female managers in the electrical construction industry. They found that craft/professional training opportunities, relationships with coworkers, and nonmonetary rewards are more influential to the attraction and retention of female managers.Utilizing 17,889 data points from USDOT workforce demographic and salary data, Jafari et al. (2020) investigated wage inequality and developed the evaluation framework to identify employees at risk of wage inequality. The framework consists of a salary prediction model, a minority index, and a decision model. They found that despite women being underrepresented, there was no critical wage inequality between men and women among USDOT employees.Karakhan et al. (2021) identified 10 pertinent indicators in achieving a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment in the construction industry. These include “(1) ethnic and racial diversity at the company level; (2) gender diversity and inclusion at the workforce level; (3) a corporate policy statement on diversity and inclusion; (4) gender/ethnic diversity in leadership/management positions; (5) knowledge and skill diversity; (6) equitable pay/compensation at the industry level; (7) equality, social justice, and nondiscrimination policy statement; (8) pay structure transparency; (9) equitable pay/compensation at the company level; and (10) merit-based transparent recruitment and promotion” (Karakhan et al. 2021).Applying social role theory, Poleacovschi et al. (2021) studied whether and how gender influences knowledge accessibility (i.e., individuals’ time and effort in the knowledge-seeking process) in an engineering-construction company. They found that women reported higher levels of knowledge accessibility than men and accordingly recommended providing employee groups with limited accessibility with appropriate tools and resources.Utilizing a scientometric review approach, Hasan et al. (2021) reviewed 128 articles published on women in construction over the last two decades. They identified four major research clusters, including gender roles and work culture, glass walls and ceilings, job satisfaction, and gender diversity initiatives. The authors suggested more research on issues, including mentoring and training, entrepreneurship, migrant labor, and the health and safety of female workers.Implications of Workforce Diversity and InclusionTwo articles included in this collection focused on linking the diversity in the workforce to team/project/organizational performance.Ling et al. (2020) studied the situational job factors that confront female facility managers in Singapore. They confirmed the existence of gender stereotypes and other gender issues, and offered solutions, such as job knowledge enhancement, welfare improvement, and healthy and comfortable working environments, to boost female facility managers’ work performance.Applying social exchange theory, Francis and Michielsens (2021) found that (1) inclusion increased female professionals’ satisfaction and decreased their turnover intent, and (2) as compared with others, inclusive companies provided significantly more mentoring and organizational training sessions.Career Development of Underrepresented Demographic GroupsThis research area focuses on understanding underrepresented groups’ transition to the industry, ongoing training and mentoring in the workforce, and the barriers to their career development. Only one article included in this collection falls into this group.Naoum et al. (2020) found that women follow zigzag career development paths more often and have low “global self-worth” perception, especially when they are over 40 years of age in UK construction consultancies. They also found that several initiatives, such as improved flexible working arrangements, transparent promotion criteria, return-to-work training sessions, and school outreach programs, can contribute to the retention of women.Underrepresented Groups in Engineering-Construction Education ProgramsSix articles included in this collection focused on the issues, including the attraction, retention, and supports, for underrepresented student groups in engineering-construction education programs.Using an intersectional approach, True-Funk et al. (2021) examined the effects of microaggressions on learning environments among engineering undergraduate students. The research confirmed five macro and two micro effects of microaggressions, namely, “(1) reduced self-belief (reduced self-efficacy and reduced self-esteem), (2) otherness, (3) racial/gender isolation, (4) stereotype threat, and (5) and empowered sense of self” (True-Funk et al. 2021).Polmear et al. (2021) examined how US civil engineering undergraduate students accrued the National Academy of Engineering’s Engineer of 2020 (E2020) attributes from their out-of-class activities. They found that students from underrepresented groups accrued E2020 attributes more from their out-of-class activities (i.e., design competition, professional experience, and music/dance) than their counterparts. This finding implies out-of-class activities are important to civil engineering undergraduate students from underrepresented groups.Keku et al. (2021) identified the differences in civil engineering and construction undergraduate students’ career satisfaction expectations and participation in cocurricular activities (i.e., participation in an organization for women and minorities in engineering and an outreach club) between underrepresented and non-underrepresented groups.Hamlet et al. (2021) found that upper-division female students in civil and construction engineering education programs have a more robust engineering identity than their counterparts, and highlighted the importance of building and sustaining a female’s strong engineering identity.Burgoon et al. (2021) studied the physical artifacts on display (e.g., art, signs, and photographs) in three construction programs at US universities. They found underrepresentation of people from minority groups in their studied artifacts. Accordingly, they proposed diversifying these physical artifacts in education and public spaces at universities to create more inclusive environments.Based on Gottfredson’s career development theory, Infante-Perea et al. (2021) studied Spanish senior undergraduate students in building engineering to identify their perceived career barriers with a focus on gender. Compared with their male counterparts, they found that female students expect on-site occupations to be less accessible to them and anticipate more obstacles in their careers.This concludes the summaries of the 23 papers that were collected by 2021. The guest editors will continue to add future publications to this collection periodically to maintain a current point of reference for scholarly foundations and evidence-based practices that can foster diversity and inclusion in the general workforce and in underrepresented populations in the engineering-construction industry.Future Research DirectionsWhile these articles offer valuable insights into fostering diversity and inclusion in the construction-engineering industry, more research is required to advance this line of work. To this end, the guest editors believe that the following topics are of great potential: 1.Diversity and inclusion in the construction workforce: a.What are some barriers/challenges that may face the racial minority groups (e.g., African Americans/Blacks, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native Pacific Islanders in the United States) in the engineering-construction workforce; and the strategies to overcome such (Manesh et al. 2020b)?b.What is the extent of the wage gap by gender and race/ethnicity if other variables, such as educational attainment, years of experience, job requirements related to technical education and apprenticeships, entry-level jobs, and occupations, are controlled (Shrestha et al. 2020)?c.What are high school students’ perceptions, interests, and understanding about the construction industry; and how can more students, particularly from the underrepresented groups, be effectively attracted to enter the engineering-construction workforce (Choi et al. 2018)?d.How may individuals’ perceptions of the barriers to their careers change from a longitudinal perspective (e.g., being students versus after graduation) among underrepresented groups (Infante-Perea et al. 2021)?2.Supporting contexts for workforce diversity and inclusion: a.How can an inclusive work environment for workers with disabilities be created?b.What are the efficiency and outcomes of the various practices that can potentially foster an inclusive work environment and culture in engineering-construction companies, such as flexible working arrangements (Naoum et al. 2020), work-life balance (Dainty and Lingard 2006), and paternity leave?c.What is the impact of organizational policies and initiatives to promote diversity and equality, and their changing dynamics (Baker et al. 2021)?3.Implications of workforce diversity and inclusion: a.How may the perceptions of individuals, especially those in underrepresented groups, about workforce diversity and inclusion affect their well-being and work behaviors?b.How may diversity and inclusion in project teams affect team dynamics (e.g., trust, team cohesion, communication, and level of conflicts) and project performance?c.How may diversity and inclusion in the workforce affect organizational performance (e.g., competitiveness, market share, and growth) and construction industry development (e.g., trends in labor shortage and productivity)?4.Career development of underrepresented groups in the industry: a.What are evidence-based practices that can support the career development of underrepresented groups, including their transition to the industry and career advancement?b.What are the efficiency and outcomes of the various practices that can potentially support career advancements, such as providing training/mentoring opportunities and role models, for employees, especially those from underrepresented groups?c.What are some perceived barriers to accessing the organizational supports and resources supporting career advancement among the underrepresented groups, and how to overcome such?5.The underrepresented groups in the engineering-construction education programs: a.The guest editors firmly believe that more studies are needed to understand the issues in relation to the education of underrepresented groups in engineering-construction educational programs, such as how to attract, retain, and support them. However, given their educational focuses, authors working on such topics are recommended to submit their works to ASCE’s Journal of Civil Engineering Education or the American Society for Engineering Education’s Journal of Engineering Education.References Burgoon, J., E. Arneson, J. W. Elliott, and R. Valdes-Vasquez. 2021. “Visual ethnographic evaluation of construction programs at public universities: Who is valued in construction education?” J. Manage. Eng. 37 (4): 04021025. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000899. Choi, J. O., P. P. Shrestha, J. Lim, and B. K. Shrestha. 2018. “An investigation of construction workforce inequalities and biases in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry.” In Proc., Construction Research Congress 2018. Reston, VA: ASCE. Hamlet, L. C., A. Roy, G. Scalone, R. Lee, C. Poleacovschi, and J. Kaminsky. 2021. “Gender and engineering identity among upper-division undergraduate students.” J. Manage. Eng. 37 (2): 04020113. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000876. Karakhan, A. A., J. A. Gambatese, D. R. Simmons, and A. J. Al-Bayati. 2021. “Identifying pertinent indicators for assessing and fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion of the construction workforce.” J. Manage. Eng. 37 (2): 04020114. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000885. Keku, D., F. Paige, T. Shealy, and A. Godwin. 2021. “Recognizing differences in underrepresented civil engineering students’ career satisfaction expectations and college experiences.” J. Manage. Eng. 37 (4): 04021034. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000902. Manesh, S. N., J. O. Choi, B. K. Shrestha, J. Lim, and P. P. Shrestha. 2020a. “Spatial analysis of the gender wage gap in architecture, civil engineering, and construction occupations in the United States.” J. Manage. Eng. 36 (4): 04020023. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000780. Manesh, S. N., J. O. Choi, and P. Shrestha. 2020b. “Critical literature review on the diversity and inclusion of women and ethnic minorities in construction and civil engineering industry and education.” In Proc., Construction Research Congress 2020, 175–184. Reston, VA: ASCE. Maurer, J. A., D. Choi, and H. Hur. 2021. “Building a diverse engineering and construction industry: Public and private sector retention of women in the civil engineering workforce.” J. Manage. Eng. 37 (4): 04021028. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000913. Naoum, S. G., J. Harris, J. Rizzuto, and C. Egbu. 2020. “Gender in the construction industry: Literature review and comparative survey of men’s and women’s perceptions in UK construction consultancies.” J. Manage. Eng. 36 (2): 04019042. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000731. Perrenoud, A. J., B. F. Bigelow, and E. M. Perkins. 2020. “Advancing women in construction: Gender differences in attraction and retention factors with managers in the electrical construction industry.” J. Manage. Eng. 36 (5): 04020043. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000808. Poleacovschi, C., A. Javernick-Will, S. Wang, and T. Tong. 2021. “Gendered knowledge accessibility: Evaluating the role of gender in knowledge seeking among engineers in the US.” J. Manage. Eng. 37 (1): 04020094. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000865. Polmear, M., A. D. Chau, and D. R. Simmons. 2021. “Intersection of diversity, out-of-class engagement, and Engineer of 2020 outcomes for civil engineering students.” J. Manage. Eng. 37 (4): 04021019. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000901. Shrestha, B. K., J. O. Choi, P. P. Shrestha, J. Lim, and S. Nikkhah Manesh. 2020. “Employment and wage distribution investigation in the construction industry by gender.” J. Manage. Eng. 36 (4): 06020001. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000778. True-Funk, A., C. Poleacovschi, G. Jones-Johnson, S. Feinstein, K. Smith, and S. Luster-Teasley. 2021. “Intersectional engineers: Diversity of gender and race microaggressions and their effects in engineering education.” J. Manage. Eng. 37 (3): 04021002. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000889.



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