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Engineering, work and gender in house building industry

Grant number: 14/04980-2
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: June 01, 2014 - May 31, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology - Other specific Sociologies
Principal Investigator:Maria Rosa Lombardi
Grantee:Maria Rosa Lombardi
Host Institution: Fundação Carlos Chagas (FCC). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


In Brazil, during the past ten years, what has changed in engineering and in the position of women in this professional field, vis-à-vis the 1990 decade? This issue gave rise to several exploratory investigations through education and employment statistics analysis, interviews with opinion leaders and an analysis of Brazilian studies on women in engineering. These researches were conducted during 2013, at Carlos Chagas Fondation. The overall contours of the transformations witnessed gave rise from that phase and allowed to delineate the objectives and the methodological guidelines of the investigation we intend to carry out now. During the past decade, the expansion of engineering courses continued, thereby increasing the total of graduations by one and a half time between 2001 and 2011. The economic scenario changed for the better with the resumption of economic growth, the decline of unemployment and the restructuring of the formal labor market. Investments in infrastructure regained impetus; public financing policies were defined, contributing to the expansion in housing construction and turning these activities into the third largest engineer employer, outstripped only by the services and manufacturing segments. There has been a heated demand for engineers from the past mid-decade onwards, followed by the increase in salaries and the upgrading of the profession. Nonetheless, the employment of women-engineers continued to lag, representing in 2012, a mere 18 % of the total. The lack of a change in the patterns of behavior and interaction - within an area of marked masculinity - did little to modify the division of work and tasks, and much less to diminish the gaps in remuneration and career growth patterns between men and women engineers.The choice of house building industry and civil engineering as research object arose out of several factors. Firstly, the importance of that activity in the generation of employment for civil engineers, most importantly for female; secondly, the transformations that are being witnessed in building methods and techniques with the consequent alteration of working processes at the jobsite and in the role of the engineer proper and thirdly; both engineering and construction are highly favorable to focus on work conflicts and discrimination dues to gender concepts and stereotypes prevalent in Brazilian society. Lastly, a previous study conducted on popular house building and division of work and tasks between male and female architect, will be helpful in refining the observation and the comprehension of facts, apart from giving rise to comparisons between the two studies and the enhancement of the analysis.The methodological design of the current project implies carrying out two case studies with housing construction companies; the first with a large concern focused on the high-end segment; the second directed at popular housing.In addition, we intend to follow three groups involved in "gender and engineering debate" localized during the exploratory investigation, interviewing repeatedly a sample of their members. (AU)

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