World Journal of Engineering and Technology, 2020, 8, 33-41
ISSN Online: 2331-4249
ISSN Print: 2331-4222
10.4236/wjet.2020.81004 Jan. 9, 2020 33 World Journal of Engineering and Technology
Gender Discrimination in Building
Construction Industry in Nigeria: Threat to
Achieving Goal-5 of Vision 2030
Shirka Kassam Jwasshaka1, Nor Fadila Amin2
1Department of Building and Woodwork Technology, Plateau State Polytechnic, Barkin Ladi, Nigeria
2Department of Technical and Engineering Education, Universiti Teknologi, Skudai Johor Bahru, Malaysia
This manuscript is mainly to investigate gender discrimination in building
construction industry in Nigeria. The manuscript
aimed at establishing the
level of women participation in building construction industry in developed
nations and developing nations in order to proffer solutions for its improve-
ment in Nigeria. It was found that the percentage of women participation in
building construction work is higher among developed countries than in de-
veloping countries. In developing countries Nigeria inclusive, higher percen-
tages of women were found to be engaged as helpers or labourer
s and in other
unskilled jobs. It was also reve
aled that some of the factors affecting women
participation in building construction work in Nigerian include
: lack of
self-confidence to compete with their male counterparts, effect of stereotyp-
ing of the profession as masculine jobs, religious believes, norms, and cus-
toms and so on.
Attitudinal Factors, Interest, Construction Skills, Future Job Demands
Construction industry constitutes one of the major sub-sectors that contribute to
the gross domestic product (GDP) of Nigeria economy. According to  the
sector contributes 70% of the fixed capital formation and 3% of the GDP. Nige-
ria has forecast that by 2030 it hopes to gain US$ 257 with an annual growth rate
of 8.7% from infrastructure . The construction industry is one of the sectors
globally observed to be capable of contributing to the economic development of
How to cite this paper:
Amin, N.F. (2020) Gender Discrimina-
tion in Building Construction Industry in
Nigeria: Threat to Achieving Goal
World Journal of Engineering
December 12, 2019
January 6, 2020
January 9, 2020
Copyright © 20
20 by author(s) and
Research Publishing Inc.
This work is licensed under the Creative
International License (
CC BY-NC 4.0).
S. K. Jwasshaka, N. F. Amin
10.4236/wjet.2020.81004 34 World Journal of Engineering and Technology
a nation. It is estimated that over three million people work in the industry in
various capacities as professionals, administrative staff, operatives and labourers.
Reports of  showed that the sector is one of the largest employers of labour
with the approximate number of eleven million people globally. Due to culture,
tradition, and religious believes, women are rarely being found in the employ-
ment of building construction work.  observed that most of the women found
in the construction workforce are engaged in carrying out managerial, secretari-
al, messengers, helpers or labourers work with little or none involve in carrying
out specialized and other professional work.
Nigeria has similar operation models in their construction industries with
United Kingdom being their colonial masters. An observation in a report Smith
Institute (2016) reveals that in the UK, the construction industry is prone to run
out of staff. This scenario is already being envisaged in Nigerian construction
industry because of non-involvement of women who in spite of possession of
construction skills, chose to venture into other occupations such as dress mak-
ing, cosmetic works, health care giver, child care homes, catering services, and
other vocations abandoning their profession.  termed this situation as devia-
tion rather than diversification, because it has great impact on the progress of
Nigerian building construction industry.
With a large number of women populations in Nigeria, it is obvious that the
economic growth of the nation will be affected if they are not accommodated in
a sector such as building construction which is capable of contributing to the
growth of the economy. Achieving Goal 5 of the sustainable development goals
which emphasizes gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls by
2030 will be a mirage if this scenario continued.
This however, calls for an intensified global and strong advocacy to ensure
that confidence is built in the women to see the need to take up construction
profession in order to fight poverty and generate revenues for themselves and
the society. Skill development is key in improving household productivity, em-
ployability and income earning opportunities for women. It also enhances food
security and promotes environmentally sustainable rural development and live-
There has been advocacy globally for nations to recognize gender equality as
evident in the United Nations Vision 2030 document. During the general as-
sembly of the United Nations at a millennium Summit in 2002, the whole world
vowed to prioritized gender equality . This resolve has not yet been felt in
Nigeria construction industries as women participation is insignificant. Accord-
ing to , gender stereotyping which seems to be the primary factor of voca-
tional dichotomy need to be tackled headlong if Nigeria desires to get it right.
There has been no considerable number of women been employed in the build-
ing construction industry, hence, the necessity for the study in order to deter-
mine the reasons for this ugly trend. In Nigeria, research into women participa-
tion in building construction work is scanty and, in most cases, not empirically
based as in the developed countries. However, a number of studies on the in-
S. K. Jwasshaka, N. F. Amin
10.4236/wjet.2020.81004 35 World Journal of Engineering and Technology
formal housing delivery a sub sector of the Nigerian construction industry have
revealed that there is low level of women participation in construction.
2. Experiences in Developed Nations
 reports in his study that in the UK, from 1990 to 2005, there was stability in
the percentage range of between 10% - 12% of women employed in the built en-
vironment. Because of the busier nature of the UK construction industry during
the few decades, it was experiencing skills shortage in the sector according to .
It is no longer news that the UK government is looking out to utilizing the tal-
ents of women and is examining ways to encourage women’s entry into
 reports that in the United States of America USA the speedy growing pro-
fession for women is the building construction work. Even though women only
constitute about 3% of total employment in the industry, a good number of wom-
en enthusiasts are beginning to take up new enterprises in the field. Great percen-
tage of about 30% women businesses in the building construction work has in-
crease since 1997. The responsible factor to this is perhaps the frantic efforts made
by government towards contract awards to women-owned businesses in the USA.
USA government achieves this because women are treated not in equality to men
but as individual in their own rights and capabilities . According to Labour
Statistics as cited by  the average employment in the European Union coun-
tries has 10% of women. In the construction industry 8% of the overall employ-
ments are women. Figure 1 shows percentage of women involvement in the build-
ing construction industries from some selected European countries.
13.5% and 12% represents percentages from Austria and Germany respective-
ly which is the highest percentage of active participation of women in the con-
struction industries among the European countries. Greece records the least
with 2%, Malta and Portugal 4.3%. Countries like Romania, UK, Netherlands,
Bulgaria records between 5% to 9% of women active participation in construc-
tion sectors and France have 10%. However,  observed that majority of the
women who are employed in the construction industries within the European
Union prefer to work as administrators, technicians and professionals rather
than tradeswomen. Corroborating this assertion,  posits that in the UK per-
centage of women employed in construction sector as administrators is as high
3. Developing Nations
The hidden resources have remained untapped in Women among the develop-
ing nations because of socio cultural attitudes or barriers. In some African na-
tions, for example, women are not supposed to be seen in the construction in-
dustry entirely. In Asia, the number of women outnumbers that of men in the
construction industries. Productive percentages of all employee in the construc-
tion industries in Bangladesh, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, women accounts for 88%
S. K. Jwasshaka, N. F. Amin
10.4236/wjet.2020.81004 36 World Journal of Engineering and Technology
Figure 1. Women participation in construction work in some European countries,
Source: Labour Statistics cited in Aulin and Jingmond (2011).
95%, and 78% respectively according to  the author stressed that, most of the
Women employed in the construction sites in Asia are engaged as labourers or
helpers and managers of building material sites, see Figure 2, where as in the
Western countries, women are employed in administrative, technical and pro-
fessional work. In some of these Asian countries, the place of women in the hie-
rarchy of job is low, in fact, they are considered as people who can only do un-
skilled job and as head-load carriers . They carry out some of the hardest and
most difficult tasks and are paid less than men doing similar tasks. Sometimes,
they are not paid at all and, in most cases, payment is made to their husbands
(Wells 2004 cited in ).
In South Africa for instance, where social related jobs are occupied by 55%
women, the construction industry only boast of 12.4% of all job categories be-
cause of the unpopular interest in the sector as reported by . In Nigeria ac-
cording to the study carried out by  on the percentage representation of men
and women in construction industry, it was found that 50% of the women are
engaged as labourers.
3.1. Nigeria Perspective
 reports that in Nigeria, the Federal Government of Nigeria increasingly
views skills development as an important factor in the drive to enhance produc-
tivity, stimulate economic competitiveness, and raise people out of poverty. 
agreed that skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and
social development of any country and the economy becomes more productive,
innovative, and competitive through the existence of more skilled human potential.
0 5 10 15
S. K. Jwasshaka, N. F. Amin
10.4236/wjet.2020.81004 37 World Journal of Engineering and Technology
Figure 2. Percentage of Women engaged as Labourers in construction work in some de-
veloping countries. Source: Wells (2004): Statistics South Africa, (2003): Adeyemi
In Nigeria the percentage representation of women that participates in one
form of activities or the other is 43.1% compared to men percentage of 56.9%
according to . This statistical index left much to be desired because women
participation has not yet been felt in the generation of revenue for the economy.
 posits that sociocultural, ethics, and values existing among ethnics group
may be responsible for the low interest of women in the construction skills in
Nigeria. Some of the responsible factors as expressed by the writer comprises of
“one-man-many wives” attaching more value to male child education than fe-
male under the pretext that male child is the heirs of his parents, sexual harass-
ment, lack of self-confidence, and traditionally or religious believes. And so on.
Women have a long history of hard work and dedication in productive labour
in Nigeria economy. They are industrious and enterprising; some engages in
crafts work such as dying, weaving and spinning, food processing, retail trade,
entertainment, and other home-based informal activities. Yet these potentials
have not been maximized in the field of building construction. The economy of
the country can be improved if efforts are made by the Nigerian government to
harnessed these potentials in women into participating in building construction
3.2. Status of Women in Building Construction Industry in Nigeria
Women empowerment is very important as most of the proportion of the
world’s women population is unemployed and underemployed. They are equally
competent, intelligent and talented as men and empowering them will not only
benefit her individually but to the whole world at large. Women empowerment
may lead to economic benefits and reduction of corruption and domestic vi-
olence which may ultimately lead to national development . However, in Ni-
geria today, as opined by , in both industrial and academic facets of the con-
S. K. Jwasshaka, N. F. Amin
10.4236/wjet.2020.81004 38 World Journal of Engineering and Technology
struction industry, the rate of women’s participation and enrolment is grossly
low. In a report of a comparative study conducted by  on women and men
participation in construction industries, only 16.3% of the workforces were
women. The study further revealed that 50% of these women were employed as
labourers, 37.5% as administrative staff, 10% as management staff and only 2.5%
represents women with skill see Figure 3 below. The study concluded that
women are underrepresented in the Nigeria construction industries because of
their preference to administrative and other unskilled jobs to construction skills.
Traditionally, Nigerian society believed that possession of construction skills is
solely men’s job. This societal believes is not peculiar to Nigeria alone but it cuts
across the African Nations.
3.3. Women in Vocational Occupations in Nigeria
Women are the most vibrant and dynamic segment, as well as potentially the
most valuable human resource, according to . This agrees with the claims of
 that women are better leaders, in terms of creating and articulating vision,
setting clear directions, taking charge, being an inspirational model, setting high
standard of performance, and assuming responsibilities. These qualities made
them the dominants in the informal sector of the economy in Nigeria and very
few percentages in the formal sector compared to men. In spite of their
hard-working qualities, their impact is not yet felt in the construction sector.
The dominant occupation saturated by women Nigeria includes catering servic-
es, small scale businesses, teaching, child care, dispensary work, orphanage home
managers, rentals, interior and exterior decoration, secretarial jobs and so on.
Their enrolment in construction trades in vocational schools has not been im-
pressive too because of the societal stereotyping of construction skills as meant
Figure 3. Women involvement in construction work according to occupation. Source:
S. K. Jwasshaka, N. F. Amin
10.4236/wjet.2020.81004 39 World Journal of Engineering and Technology
The effect of lack of vocational skills is usually great on the poverty level of
women according to . Because of the scourge of poverty most women have
taken up the challenges to equip themselves against unemployment, underem-
ployment, in other aspect of human endeavors generally. Professional female
construction workers are not left behind in empowering themselves with voca-
tional skills within the few passed decades.  opined that acquisition of prac-
tical skills relating to vocation in various sectors of economic and social life will
improve the standard of living of individual especially women folk who are al-
ways at the receiving end in crisis situation, and assist in eradicating poverty in
the society. Personal fulfilment is the ultimate goal of professional women con-
struction workers, who are also involved in vocational occupations. Individual
who desire to prosper in their chosen career and ready to eliminate poverty
should consider taking a career in any vocational skills  women feel satisfied
when they are independent economically and so vital driving force to this is for
them to acquire skills in occupation that is worthwhile such as construction.
From the available literature reviewed in this study, the developed and develop-
ing countries have acknowledged that building construction industry played a
very vital role in the economic development of the nation. This sector contri-
butes to a high percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the coun-
tries. Most of these countries’ statistics showed that in spite of the benefits de-
rivable from construction sector, the women folk have low participation. It was
discovered that women have a fair representation in the developed countries
such as Austria, Germany, Portugal, France, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands. In
the developing nation such as Bangladesh, Thailand, South Africa, Nigeria, a
high percentage of women employed in the construction sector are only engaged
as labourers or helpers, Administrative staff, catering services, management and
so on. The low participation was found to be attributed to a number of factors
such as socio cultural, norms, values and religious factors. Globally, in spite of
being dedicated, hardworking, and other qualities women folk have, they prefer
to take up occupation like teaching, decoration, catering services, fashion design,
childcare givers, and so on even when they have received formal training in
building construction trades.
First and foremost, I wish to appreciate the benevolence of Dr. Nor Fadila Amin
for her patience to put me on the right track in spite of her tight schedule as far
as research is concern. The efforts of the management of Universiti Tekhnologi
Malaysia, is highly commendable for providing a conducive, scholarly learning
environment. I owe the authors whose journal publications were used to come
up with an article worthy of publication; to contribute to the body of knowledge
as this, a huge debt. I say thank you all for making your work assessable for ref-
S. K. Jwasshaka, N. F. Amin
10.4236/wjet.2020.81004 40 World Journal of Engineering and Technology
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