Over the last few decades, research has largely focused on the processes and practices that act against women in male-dominated industries and the effect this has on their career progression. However, men’s careers are under analysed. This paper flips the gaze, applying a feminist institutionalist lens to examine the practices and rules that shape and enable men’s career progression. This is critical if we are to understand how men’s power in organizations is maintained and perpetuated, arguably at the expense of women’s careers. It draws on data from a rapid ethnographic study of the Australian construction industry, specifically of construction professionals working in two multinational Australian construction companies. The paper finds that men’s career progression routinely operates through homosociality, instrumentally and expressively, via a “sponsor-mobility” principle whereby selected individuals receive higher levels of guidance, access to opportunities and advocacy from their managers.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Natalie Galea, University of Melbourne, A Faculty of Architecture

Abigail Powell, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences

Fanny Salignac, University of Technology Sydney