Gender Representation at Workplace

These days, competition in the job market has increased tremendously than ever before. Therefore it is becoming very hard for both males and females to find a reasonable job for oneself as they are in a healthy competition with each other, possibly in every field of life and at all levels. Gender-Representation
According to an estimate, the ratio of female representation to male at workplaces is 1/3 (approx) which suggests that there are more male employees then females working at different places. One of the reasons of this ratio is that female employees’ have dual responsibilities consequently those who can proficiently manage both family and careers opt for work. Furthermore, it is also considered that there are certain jobs which a male employee can do better than a female. Similarly, in some jobs females are given preference over males. However, the thought is to opt for a career which is the best match of one’s personality and aptitude.
Would like to know, what according to you should be the ideal female/male ratio at a workplace? Or should we merely consider competencies before hiring/promoting anybody regardless of prevailing gender proportion.


  • You know the answer….. Competence should be the key without any reservations but this doesn’t actually happen on ground.

  • Ratios of men v women? Really come on!
    A business is about making money. There are other considerations but the primary reason behind being in business boils down to that.
    If it happens through design or survival of the fittest that the most effective in your work force are women, Mexican midgets, Bhutanese animists, post op transgender individuals, Vets, old age pensioners or white middle aged Anglo Saxon males then they will be the people you employ, reward and seek out when you expand.
    If your company benefits from the culture and experience of employees coming from all of the above demographic groups (and more) then you will make every effort to maintain a level of diversity.
    There is no perfect ratio of any variety of employees it simply depends on what works for your and your company.
    Personally I am all for more women on the front line in conflicts, more stay at home dads and male kindergarten teachers, more women miners and male nail technicians, more male seamstresses and female tailors, ad infinitum.
    If you like what you do, if you do it better than the other applicant(s) if you will fit in to my company culture I WILL give you a job. I would be stupid not to.

  • Of course gender ratios will vary, any number of factors drive the numbers. However, it is important to avoid gender stereotypes. Women now comprise half of the American workforce and while women are underrepresented in some fields, men are underrepresented in fields as well. Unfortunately, firms will trend towards those stereotypes passing over on well qualified applicants of the opposite sex. Obviously, gender ratios are irrelevant (or should be) as qualified and competent candidates are the key.
    Many good points all around. I would add in relation to the queston posed that I would like to see the EEOE surveys removed from the application process. I know from past experience that hiring decisions have been made, in part, by the info provided on the survey.

  • I think we need to look at it deeply and really find out if our organisation is preventing or hampering people from applying because of certain work culture or our stereotyping of certain work to be done efficiently only by a particular gender…..

  • Actually there was an article in the New York Times recently that stated the balance has shifted in America and that more women are employed than men for the first time in history, the margin wasn’t great, perhaps 52% women over the men, but it stated a trend that women are fast becoming the primary workers in America. I know several families where the fathers are stay at home dads and the wives are responsible for bringing in the bacon.
    I don’t think there need be a ratio in the workplace, I feel its the best person for the job who should get the job, be it male or female. But I have had on occasion throughout my career requests for a certain gender, if possible, because the department at that time was top heavy with too many of one gender and they’d like to balance it out if they could.
    I see women doing jobs nowadays that previously only men used to do. I myself would never want to be a lineman for the telephone company, I’m afraid of heights myself. But there are police women, truckers, taxi drivers, jobs that traditionally were men only sorts of jobs. In other fields that don’t require brawn as much, I don’t see real discrimination. If a woman wants to attain something, what’s stopping here?

  • The variation within a company should “only” depend and come out as a result of the orginal country Male/Female ratio and the number of applications received for the type of job offered. All should be given equal chance to compete. Other than that this will be considered as diversity. Rules and regulations in a country should not be drafted on any Male/ Female basis, unless one is found out to be deprived from His/Her original rights then a minimum quota might be imposed but not forever, only until the system is corrected.

  • Good grief…… if competencies is NOT the measurement for hiring/promoting, we are all doomed!
    There is no ideal mix. May the best person for the job win it. Period.

  • The ideal female/male ratio — the best person for the job.
    I am a woman and have experienced all sorts of ratio within the same company. Truth be told I can see the challenge with hiring young mothers. Their focus is on their children where, as far as I concerned, it should be.

  • choose a career with a vision,& talk to yourself,listen to yourself,in everyfield there is a top position,life is only when you love your choice of field.but setting a goal & achieving it are two different things,for example everybody love unity & universal brotherhood,but there is a bad politics,the whole world unity will be only when there will be no border,every religion having one message of love,unity,& help the could we unite the world,this question must be raised in every house,school,temple,mosque,church,gurudwara,& everywhere,& in media ,so,i must come to the point,that every thoghts,only good if you adopt are copetent to decide which career suits you,in the wide scope.
    with regards,
    join my group,himusikri family =hi for hindu,mu for muslim,si for sikh,& kri for christion & all religion in one family.

  • I think this is a more complex question than may appear on the surface. Here are my thoughts:
    First, there was a very interesting article on this subject: “Womeneconomics” in the Jan. 2 edition of the Economist (which echoes Cheryl’s statistics ). The article commented that some of this gain for women was due to the nature of industry shifting from heavy manufacturing to IT, service, retail, distribution etc. This meant that the “legitimate’ bias for male employees (the ability to lift and manipulate heavy tools and equipment as a key criterion — and the preference for promoting people into management who had hands-on ‘line’ experience) are no longer very important for most careers.
    Additionally, there have been major changes in the number of college educated women in this country, and their majors. In 1966, 40% of degreed women attained BA’s in Education; and only 2% in Business related fields. These educational choices contributed to the preponderance of women in teaching, and men in business — which in turn shaped expectations and ‘stereotyping’ of what were ‘appropriate’ male and female occupations.
    Currently, 12% of women’s BAs are in Education and 50% percent in Business fields. Harvard Business school’s MBA admissions of women for 2010 is 38% — up from 11% a decade ago. Women as a group are now outperforming men in college and graduate school, and 80% of women with BA’s or higher are in the workforce.
    Now let’s look at WHERE women are in the organisational pyramid:
    Despite women constituting almost or over 1/2 the workforce, only 13.5% are executive officers/senior executives of Fortune 500 companies; 2% are the top boss; and they make up only 15% of board memberships.
    What’s wrong with this picture? More directly addressing the question, (but not generalising to other kinds of diversity) whilst I totally disagree with setting ratio targets, I do think the ratio should somewhat reflect the general population/available talent pool. I tell my clients that if their ratio of male and female employees is heavily skewed toward one or the other — particularly when you look at representation ‘up the ladder’ — most probably there is some institutionalised (and usually unconscious)gender bias at work in recruitment practices, selection and promotions, which actually mitigates against getting the best possible candidate for a position on the basis of ‘competence’. A couple of examples:
    An engineering company with only 10% women who claimed they simply couldn’t find any qualified women candidates. Auditing their recruitment process revealed that they only recruited at three universities who were part of a long-standing ‘old boy’s network’. Expanding on these, and using external recruitment agencies (plus overhauling their interview formats) has enabled them to increase the overall ratio (without setting targets!) to 43% overall, and over 25% in senior positions. They also attribute this change to substantially increased company performance.
    Another client — a social services company dominated by women — assumed (without really challenging the assumption) that men could not be ’empathetic and nurturing’. In interviews of male candidates, whilst they insisted they were completely objective, my observation was that the interviewers would selectively perceive and pounce on anything that supported that bias.
    Hence, I encourage clients with ‘imbalances’ to really try to surface and examine their beliefs and assumptions and thoroughly assess their systems, processes, policies, selection an promotional criteria for unconscious (or conscious) gender biases.
    The other issue you mention is the conflict many women have between careers and family — particularly child-birth and care. There are a number of top companies in the US who are experimenting with changing their policies to be more supportive of families — extending maternity/paternity leaves, etc.– but the US lags far behind Europe.
    Just one more point….I do think it is important for companies to really look at and deal with this issue, as there is a ‘ feminist’ concept gaining ground that women are superior leaders for the changing structures/environment/challenges of modern industry — which is becoming less hierarchical, more fluid, matrix or project based. The argument goes that these new organisational forms can best benefit from leadership competencies in collaboration, participative management, co-operation, facilitation, teamwork, networking and so on. Some feminist thought-leaders (and some major consultancies) are suggesting women innately possess these skills and attitudes, and their wisdom and unique leadership abilities should be given precedence over men’s. As any individual may possess none, some or all of characteristics associated with their ‘group’, I find this generalisation disturbing and potentially damaging for business.

  • I think Karen has covered the waterfront on this one. The crux of the issue remains that while women are fast outpacing men in university enrollments in medicine, accounting, law and other formerly male-dominated fields, they’re still poorly represented at the top of organizations. See the link to the 2009 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Women Board Directors details women’s representation in corporate governance at the largest companies in the United States.

  • Merydith Willoughby

    I wrote a media article on this topic this week. Here it is for you. I think you will enjoy reading it.
    Address the imbalance
    It’s the 21st century and it’s time that we had equal representation on boards and committees in the government and public sector. One report recently saw major change in a country occur because they had a cut off date; either they had a certain number of women in key positions or face being deregistered. While it worked, it seems a hard line approach to take but it worked.
    While this situation is allowed to continue business is losing out on powerful intellects and if allowed to continue, will further impact on the skill shortages we are experiencing.
    Succession planning is one way this can happen without political intervention. Women who would make good managers and be effective on boards can be targeted, developed and when ready, offered positions.
    There are often cries about ‘the best person for the job’ and that when you do ensure equal representation and it is not gained through the normal processes that it is tantamount to putting women in the job who shouldn’t be there. It used to be called affirmative action. This is something that I don’t believe is accurately portrayed and the results don’t support it. When we provide support to women, a leg up if you like, to get onto the committees, senior positions and then provide them with leadership development, mentoring and support they can do very well.
    I am not talking about women who clearly cannot do the required work, rather about those who are skilled, intelligent in their field and who want to be involved but for one reason or another haven’t had the opportunity or may not have the confidence or think they are good enough for the required position.
    Recently I attended a business seminar facilitated by a progressive organization. One of its core activities is to encourage entrepreneurship. On the panel were four successful, businessmen who gave us the run down on how they had become successful in their chosen field. Their presentations were interesting, yet there was something missing – gender balance. Not one woman in view.
    I spoke to the organiser after the event and asked him whether they’d had difficulty finding women to participate. I was told that senior management had decided that these were the best speakers for the event and that they don’t have women just to provide a ‘token female’. The panel came from other states and were from the finance sector. It seemed to me that they could probably have found some women to share the podium. They just needed to put the time and effort in. The incongruence about this situation is that this organization’s mission statement is to develop entrepreneurial behaviour in business. They perhaps need to look up what the word means.
    It is most unlikely that two women leaders in finance and business who are entrepreneurs in their field could not be found!
    I was surprised at the response from the organiser: they were outdated and boring. My comments were not received favourably. As society progresses it is up to us to evaluate whether our behaviour and thoughts are following suit and if we claim to be progressive then we need to hold ourselves accountable for policies and procedure we have in place.
    I hope they will think about my comments and make a concerted effort to have a gender balance next time. Comments such as – we tried, but we couldn’t find them don’t wash very well in the 21st century. It might take a while but it is worth the search because unless we all work to break down stereo types our society becomes staid.
    Everyone has to work towards making workplaces and society more equitable. It is not just if you happen to spot a woman who could do what you want; find them and provide them with ongoing leadership development. Get the right ones and then the whole organization can benefit.

  • Hi Salima:
    It is the competence, skills which matters when a company has to hire. Yes you are right there are less number of women vs men at work place and primarily at the middle and senior management level. In most industries in India, the number of women at junior level is fairly fine. The % of women is less at middle level due to marriage, children and relocation of the spouse are just a few important reasons amongst many other.
    What matters at work place is the different skill set, diversity of thought process and competency both men and women bring to the workplace and that typically drives the ratios as well. There is no right or perfect ratio at work place but yes it should not be loop sided without any preferential treatment to any party.

  • Ideally, there would be no question about gender representation. People should be hired and considered on skills and abilities. The fact that people seem to track and care about statistics of this nature are jsut one more thing that holds our society back…

  • Qualifications win every time. These classifications need to be eliminated, as they have always expanded to other areas outside of gender. We all have issue that need to be dealt with and life circumstances that require our attention, but our qualifications to do a specific job, more than likely are a result of our life’s journey in the package God handed us. I welcome a diverse and interesting partnership. Male Or Female?Lets try People 😉

  • I pay no attention to how an applicant is packaged. I’m for diversity in the workplace. I mean, aren’t we all?

  • Gender should not be considered, in any way, except for the very few jobs where there is a very strong reason for this. We should not consider certain people “more suitable” for certain jobs (even though this still happens a lot “under the radar” even in supposedly modern and equal societies), and we should certainly not set quotas or other means that result in positive discrimination.
    A negative example – I live in New Zealand – a country that likes to think it is a leading western style fair democracy – and I have been told (by recruitment professionals) that most companies here would not consider men for secretatrial or similar office admin jobs, regardless of ability.
    A positive example – I often empliy or work with Business analysts – my observation is that most of the best of these are women – but that’s not 100% and I wouldn’t ever consider the gender when recruiting for that role.

  • Hey Salima,
    I think one point that may have been overlooked here is that the gender imbalance that exists also has a great deal to do with the hiring manager.
    Whether or not he/she feels that having equitable gender representation as a goal for the company. Most non-MNC’s don’t care.
    Although I’d like to think that we’ve moved on giving jobs to the most capable, some male bosses aren’t particularly comfortable working with women, put it down to making a connection at an interview or not having the personality to fit the job.
    In Pakistan atleast, I’ve heard on several occasion that Male bosses don’t like hiring too many women due:
    1. inter office disputes (apparently the perception is that women instigate it),
    2.marriage (women typically quit after they get married, or atleast will once they are pregnant, and now employer wishes to hire someone, train them and know that they will lose them)
    3. Certain fields that women aren’t as prevalent (such as finance), due to lack of interest.
    4. Inter-office romance hurdles: Yes it happens and companies don’t like it.
    Now, I don’t agree with these, but I’ve definitely witnessed these issues coming up from time to time.
    I don’t think there is an ideal male/female ratio though the perception is that 50/50 is preferable. end of the day that doesn’t really matter, what matters is the firms profitability.
    Also women don’t like working in firms that are dominantly male and women employers prefer hiring other women (not as a rule, more of an unconscious bias).
    Competencies are extremely important, but would you hire a female for a position with the knowledge that because of the prevailing gender ratio is un-attractive for her?
    With regards to dual responsibilities, I believe this makes women more efficient, but working with men who work late nights makes maintaining this schedule difficult and eventually choices have to made, and that choice gravitates to the family (as well it should).
    If our inherent biases tell us that women are better suited for a role, then thats who we are going to pick, regardless of a mans qualifications. It works vice versa.

  • Dear Salima,
    This is your personal views — look arond the world you will find 1/3 ratio is not correct. BTY HR is trying to hire best talent for company or trying to figure out ratio between male and female ?
    I think we have reached to point of maturity, where male female both are working in most of industries and doing most of the job…so may i request to discuss some useful point from HR prospective to improve upon other area’s ?
    Best Regards
    Learner & Helper
    Ravi Sharma

  • Martin Thomas

    In a perfect world the male/female would simply not be a question to be thought about. And I’d certainly dispute the fact thre are any jobs which are inherently better for males or females. So you would have a basic 5050 split in the workplace, probably with a decline of women’s numbers during child bearing years simply because it’s a physical process males cannot do. But in a society with proper role sharing the only time that women HAVE to be out of the system is around the actual birth.
    The other thing that will skew the numbers away for 5050 is that though women on the whole live longer than men they get sick more often. I’d take that to mean in an ageing workforce at the older end of the spectrum thre will be an excess of women.

  • Angelee Marcantonio

    Whether a ratio is 52% or 25% or 1%, there is a reason for the ratio. There are still female dominated workplaces (like offices) and male dominated workplaces (like factories) for two reason– Choice and Chance. There are careers which we will stereotypically choose which vary based on a huge slew of factors including: upbringing, social status, education, location, influences, circumstance, etc.
    So to answer your question, the ideal female/male ratio at a workplace is irrelevant to me.

  • Judith Angell

    Karen, Tony and Meredith covered things pretty well. The one factor not mentioned is the impact of individuals–there are some men that men cannot stand to work with, but some women succeed and thus when managers will have disproprotionately more women on staff. Similarly, there are some women who have a hard time not being the brightest woman in a group who, when managers, will have disproportionately male staff. Some of these factors can be unconscious and thus not recognized as a problem and thus may never be addressed absent attention from above.

  • Christoper Smutnick

    Giving a blog talk to beginner bloggers in the not-too-distant future, I’ll be pointing people in the direction of your efforts. Nicely put together dude.

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