Strategies to assist women in trades need to fit with smaller businesses

25 NOVEMBER 2020

Strategies to assist women in trades need to fit with smaller businesses

Researchers at Charles Sturt University have found that intervention strategies designed to assist women in trades need to be designed to fit with smaller businesses operating within networked industries, using informal processes of regulation.

  • Research finds that skilled trade occupations tend to be located in small-to-medium and micro businesses with a higher level of informality in employment practices
  • It explores how gender equity interventions can be better targeted to address the informal regulation of work
  • The research will be presented at the Charles Sturt Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS) 2020 online conference (Thursday 26 and Friday 27 November)

Researchers at Charles Sturt University have found that intervention strategies designed to assist women in trades need to be designed to fit with smaller businesses operating within networked industries, using informal processes of regulation.

Associate Professor Larissa Bamberry, Lecturer in human resource management in the Charles Sturt School of Management and Marketing and four colleagues conducted the earlier ground-breaking ‘Women in Trades’ research (2018-19) in regional NSW and Victoria.

Their latest related research will be presented at the Charles Sturt Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS) 2020 online conference (Thursday 26 and Friday 27 November). The researchers are also members of the ILWS.

The paper, ‘‘It’s a male’s industry. Don’t expect us to change anything for you’; formal and informal regulation of gender equity in the construction industry’, will be presented online at 10am on Thursday, and investigates how subcontracting of small, medium and micro organisations leads to increasingly informal employment practices.

It provides an important contribution by exploring how interventions targeted at informal regulation of the workplace may achieve more significant change within male-dominated trades than strategies directed at more formal levels of regulation.

“We argue that previous gender equity strategies in the trades have focused on formal elements of regulation, and generally on larger employers who have the capacity to implement organisational change,” Professor Bamberry said.

“However, we identify that skilled trade occupations tend to be located in small-to-medium and micro businesses where there is a higher level of informality in employment practices.

“This means that our intervention strategies need to be designed to fit with smaller businesses operating within networked industries, utilising informal processes of regulation.”

The researchers emphasise that the skilled trades remain one of the most gender-segregated occupations in Australia, despite many strategic interventions designed to improve women’s access.

“Interventions have been focused at individuals, workplaces and the labour market as a whole, however most have been directed at changing formal regulation (laws, policies, rules) rather than informal regulation (practices, narratives and norms),” Professor Bamberry said.

“Such interventions have not acknowledged the fragmented, project-based nature of employment within these occupations and the industry’s reliance on subcontracting.

“We argue that informal regulation represents a significant barrier to improving gender equity in the trades.

“However, some women have overcome the barriers created by informal regulation in the trades. Their success may provide insights into improving women’s access to the skilled trades.”


Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Dr Larissa Bamberry who is based in Albury-Wodonga contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or via news@csu.edu.au

The authors of the research paper ‘‘It’s a male’s industry. Don’t expect us to change anything for you’; formal and informal regulation of gender equity in the construction industry’ are Charles Sturt academics Associate Professor Larissa Bamberry, Dr Donna Bridges, Dr Stacey Jenkins, Professor Branka Krivokapic-Skoko, and Dr Elizabeth Wulf.


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