There is under-representation of senior female managers within small construction firms in the United Kingdom. The position is denying the sector a valuable pool of labour to address acute knowledge and skill shortages. Grounded theory on the career progression of senior female managers in these firms is developed from biographical interviews. First, a turning point model which distinguishes the interplay between human agency and work/home structure is given. Second, four career development phases are identified. The career journeys are characterized by ad hoc decisions and opportunities which were not influenced by external policies aimed at improving the representation of women in construction. Third, the 'hidden', but potentially significant, contribution of women-owned small construction firms is noted. The key challenge for policy and practice is to balance these external approaches with recognition of the 'inside out' reality of the 'lived experiences' of female managers. To progress this agenda there is a need for: appropriate longitudinal statistical data to quantify the scale of senior female managers and owners of small construction firms over time; and, social construction and gendered organizational analysis research to develop a general discourse on gender difference with these firms
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