DOMINANCE OF WOMEN IN HUMAN RESOURCES ROLES AND THE RISE OF A NEW NARRATIVE.
Image source: Getty Images
As awareness and advocacy of gender equality in the workspace gains more grounds, many previously male-dominated professions are now employing a more diverse workforce as gender equality in the workplace becomes the norm rather than the exception. In today’s world, men and women coexist in their desired fields, and gender-based discrimination is denounced and attacked by international organisations, governments, and societies at large. Despite these advances, one gender continues to dominate certain industries, such as Human Resources (HR). Women hold approximately 72% of human resource positions globally due to a direct relationship between gender-specific qualities and the abilities required to work in HR. The essence of human resources may be accurate assessments of truly intangible factors such as personality, potential, and matchmaking. These are typical female characteristics.
The history of human resources shows a vital reason why the field is dominated majorly by women. Human resources can be traced back to welfare workers in the late nineteenth century. All welfare workers were female, and it was their responsibility to look after the needs of the working women and girls. As more women entered the workforce during both World Wars, the role of the social worker expanded to include recruiting and training. Majority of women were involved in the transition from welfare to personnel, and then from personnel to HR, in the same way that other industries, such as construction, relied on a predominantly male workforce. After researching the profession’s history and discovering that it was originally predominantly female, it’s becoming clear how HR has managed to maintain its misconception as a female-oriented sector. Not because men can’t or shouldn’t succeed in HR, but because women have traditionally claimed the field as their own.
Emotional intelligence (EI), also known as emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to identify emotions and use this knowledge to make educated decisions about thoughts and behaviours. It is based on four core domains: social skills, empathy, self-awareness, and emotion management. Women typically have more refined empathy and interpersonal skills than men, which are necessary for resolving office conflicts, managing staff, and negotiating contracts. The image of HR being people-based, soft and emphatic and all about helping employees work through issues is largely responsible for it being largely populated by women as the stereotypical nurturer and softer skills are seen as less intuitive to men. Men gravitate to perceived strategic, analytical roles and away from employee relations.
As the world changes, so does the narrative; Human Resources, like other professions, is not immune to upheavals. HR expectations are shifting dramatically in tandem with organisational needs. HR now has a valuable and exciting leadership opportunity as a result of this transformation. Due to use of technology for more data-driven insights, talent analytics, and employment experiences, employers now expect new skills from HR professionals. This is made possible by the digital age and a flexible mindset. These skills are required for HR to add value to the company and across the organisation. Even though these new skill requirements will undoubtedly appeal to a larger male audience,HR professionals will need to integrate both “softer” people skills and “harder” business and analytical abilities, and not just one or the other. Men are more likely to pursue careers in human resources because they possess the necessary skills.
As a result of the new business and analytical skills needed in HR, the profession is becoming more attractive to the male gender. In addition to people skills, HR requires individuals interested in a strategic level of thinking to effect change. The rise of these skills is the beginning of achieving gender balance in the HR profession. More men are venturing into the space to explore the various opportunities gradually popping up within the HR profession. As the profession becomes more attractive to the male gender, the issues of salary disparity amongst male and female HR becomes an issue. On average, male human resource professionals earn higher compared to their female counterparts even though the profession is largely dominated by females. Male HR managers earn 40% more compared to female HR managers. Whilst we push for more gender balance and inclusion, we should also push for earning equality. Both genders should earn an equal amount of compensation based on skill set and experience rather than. gender.
In conclusion, with the development of new skill sets and the rise of technology, the HR profession is gradually moving away from a female dominated profession and becoming more gender balanced. Professionals within the sector should focus on developing adaptable skills and be technology driven to. excel in their field. Also, employers should work on eliminating the gender pay gap that exists within the human resource profession and make it a fair playing ground for all genders involved.
Petke Mangni is Junior Associate, Human Resources at Clean Technology Hub.