Why are 70% of all HR jobs filled by women?
It can be argued that the root of HR jobs lie at the beginning of the 1900’s when the role of “safety secretaries” was created in order to ensure fewer accidents in dangerous industries. Indeed, if HR’s foundation can be traced back to a secretary job position at the beginning of the 20th C, clearly the gender of choice to do the job was (you guessed it) us, women. Now, thank goodness times have changed, and HR has become a fascinating and convoluted field that plays a major strategic role in any organization. Yet, in North America around 70% of all HR jobs are still filled by females. But why? Do the safety secretary days still have repercussions to this date?
Well, somewhat perhaps, but it is likely that the resilient gender state of HR can be attributed to various reasons that not only describe the field itself, but the role HR plays in today’s modern organizations.
HR in demand!
It is not far fetched to state that HR has never been more in demand that today. The 21st C modern organization understands that employees, rather than products or services, are a company’s major asset. Whereas in past decades skilled workers were the currency of HR, now knowledge employees represent where the money is at. To put it bluntly, modern organizations have empirically found out that a ‘talented’, fulfilled employee=increased productivity= competitive advantage, which is= to well, money; and hey, not even the greediest company president is going to argue with that. I mean, if you really look at it superficially there is nothing particularly feminine about HR; nevertheless, if one is to look closely, HR is (long-story-short) based on people, yes, but is still many times viewed exclusively as a social skill; and what do gender roles still teach us when we are kids? That the hard sciences like math are for boys and that the soft, social subjects like literature are for girls. And okay yes, most of us get and embrace that we are the more nurturing gender, but the strategic role that HR has today cannot be described as “that place and those people you go to when you are feeling down at work” anymore. Women are still seen as the softer of genders, but managing talent has very little to do with the role of a mom in an organization.
HR a Sciences of Strategic planning, training, talent management and much more
Should we “share” HR with men? I mean there is nothing particularly bad about having a female dominant field, but like in any department, having mixed, gender perspectives and balanced points of view can only enrich an organization. Thus, as women have started to move into fields like engineering and “hard science”- based professions, opening the door to more males in HR ensures equality rather than differentiation in the workplace. Call it what you want, Human Capital Management, HR, Employee Development, and whatnot, but what you cannot see this field as, is the girly, touchy-feely (…definitely not touchy) emotional department it has been long known for; HR today is a science of strategic planning that ensures employee development through numerous well-studied tools such as performance management, training & development, talent management, and so so many others; and as any job position, HR should be open and welcome both women and men alike. If we are here to represent employees we should be gender representative of the population we aim to develop and retain. So no, HR is not only for women anymore, and, you know what, that is okay.
Written by Samantha Padilla Torres, HR Consultant at workhoppers.com: A unique website that matches companies with local professionals seeking freelance, temporary, contract, gig and part time help. Hiring on demand has never been easier…