Best and Worst Industries for Women to Work In

By | Small Business

Today I’d like to take a look at how gender diversity plays out in different industries. Of course I have a good feel of HR and the whole world seems to know about the dismal state when it comes to IT and women. But I wanted to look into what really goes on in both these worlds and also where women stand when it comes to finance and medicine. Considering we’re in the age where women are supposed to be appreciated, the results are not what I hoped for.

IT and Women

The top 3 results of googling “Women in the IT Industry” gives you a pretty good idea of the state of the IT world:

Women in the IT IndustryNearly everyone agrees on one thing:

Women need recognition and equal rewards to encourage more of them to join IT.

So what is it about IT that makes it such a difficult industry for women to achieve fair gender diversity? Here are a few barriers that I think come into play:

  • Parents feel IT to be a “man’s world” so they discourage girls from entering into it in their college years, especially in Frontier Markets.
  • IT Executive Boards are still male dominated, making it harder for women to advance.
  • Women are generally paid less then men.

You’d think that in the 21st century the whole concept of men vs women would have been irradiated, at least in developed economies. But from all of the above, we can see that sadly, it’s just not true.

HR and Women

I recently questioned whether Men Were Really Needed in HR. Needless to say, the reaction of publishing this post was quite, well, fun. The simple fact of why women seem to be so successful at HR are the characteristics of the function including:

  • The need to be emotionally sensitive.
  • Being less financially competitive as compared to other functions.
  • Playing the supporting role in the business.

So if there’s one place we know that women can succeed, it’s HR. There’s the whole discussion of why women succeed in a function that supposedly isn’t paid well or seen as “important” but we’ll leave that for another time. Of course there are the traditional men vs. women challenges to be faced but the pastures are pretty green over here for women.

Finance and Women

Unfortunately, women and finance seem to have almost the same relationship as IT. The numbers in leadership positions are sadly staggering with only 4% female CEO’s and 13% female executive committee members in leading financial industries. There are a number of actions that the financial sector should have already taken such as:

  • Establishing mentore/mentree programs that go beyond the label and really address the challenges faced by the mentee.
  • Create and enforce quotas beyond only leadership positions.
  • Implement guided career paths for women to help them grow from entry level positions to decision makers.

One challenge with the financial sector which could possibly be unique to the industry are the long, inflexible hours that key people have to put in. Personally I think all the other sectors offer a bit more flexibility than this one but of course it’s all situation based.

Medicine and Women

What if I told you that male nurses make more than female nurses, even though there are less of them in the field? Well it’s true. Is it just because men expect more? Or that companies think they can hook women even if they offer less? In either case, it just doesn’t seem fair. And unfortunately, its even more true for doctors.

Truly, the difference in this industry surprises me more than the others. You’d think that the whole emotional element of being a doctor or nurse should make it a more gender equal industry. But this is simply not the case.

I think the one thing that I take away from all 4 of these to truly drive gender diversity is:

Employers must stop seeing women as the less “expensive” resource.

It shouldn’t matter. In fact, over and over again, it has been proven that companies with real gender diversity out perform those where women are not found. Especially in leadership positions.

So that’s the summary of 4 major industries and the future they seem to hold for women who decide to brave the battlefields. I hope that the business world realizes the mistakes it’s making and paves all the right paths for more women to enter different industries and better yet, let them be the powerful leaders they can be. If you’re not sure what to do, stay up to date with all our discussions and become part of a community that wants to shape the future.

Image Credit: Flikr: petukhovanton

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Best and Worst Industries for Women to Work In

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