Lend Me Your Ears. Or Maybe Your Bra.
We’re faced with a topic that just won’t go away so I figured I would add my 0.02 to the conversation.
After a kick-start by John Sumser at HRExaminer I’ve seen it covered at The Tim Sackett Project, dissected at Flip Chart Fairy Tales, and discussed at XpertHR. A few days ago, Michael Carty followed up by posing a few questions over at Focus. Check them here (for the guys) and here (for the gals).
A lot of back and forth about the “what exactly does it/should it/can it” mean since women outnumber men in HR. Style, innate ability, tendencies towards certain types of behavior? We can gender-stereotype all we want when we think about why women move into HR and how, if at all, they change the dynamic of their department, their organization or the profession as a whole.
Are women better at HR than men? Please. Questions like that are an insult; an implied jab at all the great men who work in HR. I despise that question almost as much as the one “who would you rather work for, a female boss or a male boss?”
Layered on top of this conversation, however, rests the larger issue of overall gender discrimination and stereotyping. This popped up, however briefly, at HRevolution during the Roundtable Discussion session. But it really had no legs because I’m not sure the folks in that room have experienced blatant gender stereotyping. Or they think it’s not happening anymore. But it’s alive and well and still surfaces itself periodically:
* A male EHS Manager and a female HR Manager attend a meeting and are introduced as “the safety man and the HR girl.”
* A candidate for a management position arrives for an interview with a male GM and a female HR Manager. During introductions he calls the male “sir” and the female “darlin'”
* Question asked of female HR job candidate – “Are you sure you can work in this environment? It gets hot and dirty and you won’t be able to wear your nice suits and high heels.”
* Overheard at a business function within the last year – “Nice to meet you little lady, what do you do?”
Heard these, saw these and lived these – in the not too distant past. I WAS the “HR girl.” And trust me, I was about 30 years past the stage of being a girl anymore.
Is it the south? Am I in a part of the US where we’re living in some sort of time-warp dimension?
Does it matter if HR is female? Of course not; certainly not in terms of capabilities, education, knowledge and ability. But until we get past this societal crap and baggage of how professional women are perceived – in ANY profession – we will still ask ourselves this question.
All that matters? At the end of the day I’m just thrilled when I see HR folks making a difference in their organizations, in the lives of their employees and within their profession.
Gender-neutral. Whether they need to wear a bra or a bro.