The Reasons Why So Many Women Choose to Work in HR

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Look around any HR department and you will soon notice that the majority of the people there are female. This is no coincidence. HR is traditionally a female field and in the US, 70% of people working in HR are women.

HR-Castellano-Watch-NowIn the UK, the picture is identical.

In 1997, 64% of HR employees were women, but by 2007, it had risen to 79%.

The same applies to HR training courses: once again, the majority of students looking for the best online colleges for human resources are female. In fact, the proportion is even greater at entry level, so in time the HR field will be even more female dominated. So why is this the case?

The Origins of HR

Part of the answer lies in the roots of the profession. Since HR is dealing with people, it should come as no great surprise that human resources began as a counselling and therapeutic job. The original HR people were more like social workers, but during the first and second world wars, industry became female dominated and women were called upon to hire other women.

The HR profession was not a skilled one; so somewhat inevitably, it attracted women (who lacked the same level of education as men). Despite the fact that women now have equal access to education, men still tend to gravitate towards jobs that require a college education.

The Nature of the Job

HR, by its very nature, is all about dealing with people. Women are naturally more empathic and skilled communicators. In part, this is why the field of human resources lends itself to well to females. Without wishing to fall into the trap of stereotyping men and women, many would argue that women end up working in HR roles because they are better suited to the job. Women listen and tend to pick up non-verbal clues better than their male counterparts do.

If you take stereotypes out of the equation, there is no reason why men could not perform perfectly well in HR. Despite this, thanks to a combination of genetics and biology, men tend to gravitate towards IT whereas women prefer HR roles. Many girls and women are brilliant at math, yet they lack self-confidence and do not put themselves forwards for such roles.

The same applies to men. Even when they have the requisite skills to work in HR, they are far more likely to choose a college course in business administration or economics.

Are Women a Good Fit for the Role?

To be successful in HR, you need to have excellent people skills. HR professionals have to be able to listen to what a candidate is telling them, to be able to filter out the white noise and see who the person really is. Most people do not present the best version of themselves when they attend for an interview or recruitment event. Nerves, swagger, and other negative qualities tend to color the way they are perceived.

Women are often better at engaging with people on a personal level. Since HR is often thought of as being a people-based role, it is not surprising that female candidates gravitate towards a career in HR.

The Right Skills for the Job

However, what many students do not realize is that you need a host of other skills to be successful in HR, and many of these skills are not necessarily only found in females. HR is highly business focused. Finding the right candidates and nurturing existing employees is the key to success of many businesses. HR professionals do need to be empathetic and caring, but they also need to maintain a level of objectivity in order to support a company’s business objectives.

Interestingly, despite the fact that HR is so heavily dominated by women, the top roles are almost always the preserve of men. The senior roles are also far better paid than general HR positions and there is some evidence that suggests there is a substantial pay gap between male and female HR professionals. However, as with most things in life, there are always exceptions to the rule and in some organizations senior HR positions are held by high-achieving women.

Does it Matter?

Ultimately, whether HR is dominated by women or men is an immaterial question. As long as the people in the roles are effective and deliver a good service, the organization will not care all that much what gender they are. Still, it is always better to have a more balanced workforce.

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