More than half of the population of Turkey is women. However, although there is an increase in the number of population, they have still been under-represented in the labour force. The conceptual and empirical elements related to the understanding of women's labour in societies like Turkey that have specific and common features as patriarchal ideology, sex segregation, domestic labour, wage labour, unpaid family labour, subordination, oppression, seclusion, class, reproduction, exploitation, inequality, rights and opportunities, formal and informal economy and marginal economy. Based on the analysis of data, population of women and their category in construction industry have been determined. Furthermore, barriers that prevent women and the reasons why women still prefer to enrol in civil engineering departments have been identified. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.