The construction sector has the largest number of unorganised labourers in India next only to agricultural sector. Women form half the workforce and by choice or by design they are not allowed to acquire specific skills that may enable them to become masons. Women join as unskilled workers and remain unskilled till the end of their working life span. However, men get training and systematically upgrade their construction skills to graduate as masons, supervisors and contractors. A study was conducted on the career progress of 440 men construction workers and 440 women construction workers and 51 building contractors to find out the reasons why women in the construction sector were not able to acquire skills for masonry work and how they could be trained to become masons. The findings of the study show that there is an inherent gender bias against women and also the shared general belief that women construction workers are unfit to be trained informally like men in the construction sector even though they have the necessary skills, capability and desire to become masons. Though the contractors are willing to accept women as masons by giving them training and placement in the construction sector, it has been found, the social forces that have perpetuated the concept of women as inferior workers are inimical to any such move. This study also analyses the methodology of training offered to men in the construction sector in India and proposes a new methodology of training that would qualify women construction workers to become masons and empower them economically.
Barnabas, Annette; Anbarasu, D. Joseph; and Clifford, Paul S.
A Study on the Empowerment of Women Construction Workers as Masons in Tamil Nadu, India.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 11(2), 121-141.
Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol11/iss2/8