Coming out and staying in industry: How sexual orientation and gender identity matters in construction employment

2018-02-05T16:52:33Z (GMT) by Sarah Barnard Andrew Dainty
Over the last three years the New Civil Engineer, Architects’ Journal and Construction News have conducted a survey investigating the experiences of LGBT workers in the sector. The surveys reveal that homophobia is commonplace in the construction industry, with many gay men and women encountering homophobic comments in the workplace and few feeling that they could be open about their sexuality in the workplace (Ramchurn, 2015a; 2015b). Furthermore, respondents had little faith that their managers would handle such issues effectively. In this literature review paper we explore the theoretical and empirical explanations for the apparent institutionally homophobic situation of the sector. A key concern is what are the experiences of LGBT people and in what ways does gender/sexual identity present challenges in working lives? The results reveal the importance of sexuality in the reproduction of social relations in construction, the nature of sexualised banter and physical harassment of LGBT workers and the effects that this has on equality of opportunity. The cultural landscape represents a toxic environment for those who do not conform to the white, male, heterosexual stereotype of the construction worker and the homosocial relations that surround it. Furthermore, the review highlights how research has evolved to now present a critical perspective on how gender and sexualities are performed in organizational contexts (Rumens, 2013). The results presented set the agenda for empirical explorations of the experiences of workers. The main contribution of the paper is that it begins to unpack the institutional landscape that sustains the status quo and which must be challenged if more inclusive practices are to take hold within the sector.