Is HR only a woman’s profession?

When a profession is judged or labelled with gender stereotypes, it affects the overall equation of that industry.

As per the common conceived notion, skills like being able to deal with the “gray”, dealing with empathy, strong ethics, and excellent communication are a must-have for a person who is working in this sector. The skills mentioned above seem to make it a rather vague and very gender-specific profession. When a profession is judged or labelled with gender stereotypes, it affects the overall equation of that industry.

A quora user has written, “Women will sack even their most liked subordinates when times get tough if their boss asks them for it. Sure, most of their job doesn’t require this, but when it comes down to it, women are more effective at it.” It might seem outrageous and not acceptable, but the response received is rather positive.


Why are women majorly considered for the role of an HR?


Pre-conceived notion: Considering HR is already perceived to be a women-dominated field; more women opt for it and men shy away from pursuing this role. As per statistics, 43% of human resources directors are women compared to 17% of sales directors and 16% of chief information officers.


Gender roles stereotypes: Women are bottled into roles of empathy, compassion etc. which seems to be the perfect fit for an HR. John Sumser says, “The essence of HR might be its ability to make clear judgments about really intangible things like personality, potential, and match-making. These are stereotypical female things.”


Higher EQ Quotient in women: Another argument claims that women have higher levels of Emotional quotient as compared to men. EQ is calculated based on; social skills, empathy, self-awareness, and managing one’s own emotions. It is regarded that women tend to demonstrate more advanced empathetic and interpersonal skills. These skills become essential in resolving intra-office disputes, overseeing employees, and negotiating contracts.


While these arguments have been done in favor of supporting women in the HR field, we need to step away from gender stereotyping roles and create equal grounds for all genders. Like Dianah Worman, adviser on diversity at the CIPD says, “The perception is that it’s a female job. It goes back to the time when Joseph Rowntree and Cadburys did all that work on looking after their workforce. This issue of it being a caring role has evolved from that, and those perceptions still inform the public’s perceptions today.”

However, we are undoubtedly witnessing a change in perceptions. Women are being moved to senior management roles, thus trickling down the effect of giving jobs irrespective of gender.

Statistics show, In 2019, 29% of senior management roles are held by women, the highest number ever on record. Companies are actively seeking measures to erase this gender gap.


Measures that can be taken to correct this perception about the HR industry


Look at HR as data-driven:

Gone are the days when we associated empathy and compassion to the profession of Human resources. With the coming of technology, it is evolving into a more data-driven and technology-focused field. A shift in perception will help make the profession more neutral.


Educate people about the role of an HR:

Will Davies, HR director at Ordnance Survey, when asked how to attract men to a female-dominated profession, says, “We need to shake off our image. HR is a great department to learn about how an organization operates and how people policies underpin commercial success and, more widely, economic prosperity for the country.”

Since we have been promoting HR as a women’s profession, most men have started believing that they do not possess or would want to develop such skillsets. Will explains how the situation has become so ironic as HR evolved from the male-dominated arena of industrial relations. They devised strategies, set objectives, measured success and concerned themselves with ‘personnel’ issues to make sure they had the right people in place to get the job done. Business needs aren’t very different today, so it’s irrelevant to think male entrants can’t see the value of taking a role in HR.

As we are raising more and more issues regarding gender diversity, companies have started taking active steps. But while we are talking about giving women more senior management positions, it is crucial that we also focus on breaking stereotypes.



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