Female engineers’ happiness and productivity in organizations with paternalistic culture

Elaine Yin Teng Chew, Erhan Atay, Serkan Bayraktaroglu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Past research adopted the universalist assumption of the gendered organization lens and revealed the career challenges of female engineers with few practical implications. Because such assumptions may miss the importance of contextual differences and subtleties, there is limited knowledge about positive experiences. Recognizing the influence of organizational and industrial contexts that interconnect culture and societal structures, this study aimed to understand the work experience of female engineers in Turkey and how the phenomenon of positive social exchange between employer and employee may bring job satisfaction and work productivity. The novel application of social exchange theory provided a fresh theoretical lens for analyzing the narratives of 19 female engineers. Enriching the body of knowledge, three key themes that contrast with past studies are (1) career fit, (2) fair human resource practices, and (3) supportive leadership that informs positive social exchange. This study revealed that within the institutionalized gendered environment, a skilful combination of fairness and protective nuance of paternalistic culture not only complement the patrimonial culture but also enable female talents to perceive fair employment exchange and career fit. The observed phenomena in this study also lay a contextual foundation for innovative talent management that is transferable to nations with a collective culture. In addition to a refinement of theory to consider contenxual valence, the findings challenge negative connotations surrounding female commitment and career that encourages a re-examination of females’ employment to reshape their work experiences in gendered construction firms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number05020005
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Gender
  • Social exchange
  • Job satisfaction
  • Career
  • Productivity

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