There is no doubt that both men and women can contribute equally and efficiently to any kind of job profile. However, as people management practices in corporate India come of age, organizations, today are displaying a propensity to employ more women in their HR departments as compared to men.
The entry of women into HR goes as far back as the late 19th century, when the role of welfare workers, who were also women, was to take care of women and girls in the workforce. And as more women entered the workforce during the two World Wars, their numbers in the welfare workforce increased and their role expanded to include recruitment and training. These days, whether man or woman, HR professionals require sound knowledge of the core business.
From a peripheral kind of supporting role, HR today is emerging as an important strategic element in management. We are getting into a knowledge industry where what matters most is the kind of people you have on board. Therefore, a successful manager has to be a well rounded person.
What is it then about women that make them excel as HR professionals? Women don’t consider HR as a career choice because it is cushioned job. Key HR skills include the ability to empathize, relate and influence and use emotional intelligence. This does not mean that men don’t have emotional intelligence, but women tend to excel in the field as they tend to have a deeper connection with others, emotionally. Similarly, HR is generally perceived to be a profession based around people and people skills. Men tend to be attracted to areas that are more systematic structured and competitive.
HR involves a lot of multi tasking and juggling of different activities at the same time and women can do many things at the same time and are not thrown off by pressures.
Women generally won’t like to pursue a job that involves being away from the family frequently and for long periods, because of their dual roles and overpowering sense of responsibility for the well being of the family. As the HR function does not involve much traveling, it does suit the physical, emotional and psychological needs of women.
The concept of having more women in HR probably came about after more women started entering the field. By volume one would encounter more women in the HR field, since women tend to have this natural affinity towards people-oriented lines of business. Nowadays, one finds an equal amount of men in HR too.
Are there any major differences in the attitudes and working styles of male and female HR mangers? The differences lies in the fact that women bring in a freshness of though to the workplace. They also bring with them a special quality to the negotiating table, a certain approachability and logic. One of the major differences in men and women is the way they communicate at work. This quality presents women as more approachable and humane and hence best suited for an HR role. Every job comes along with its own set of challenges and difficulties. And it is no different in HR. The challenges are many for a woman in the HR environment, but we can broadly label them as stereotypes regarding women in business. And that they are breaking these perceptions is a long enough list of challenges that women HR managers need to work around.