Exploring the change in perception of human resource management


Human resource management as we all know in today's context, is a set of organisational activities directed at attracting, developing and maintaining an effective workforce to achieve organisational objective. Human resource management, of today is still concerned with the general management of people and the specialised employment issues. Both of the concerns started as early as 1970s.

Since 1980s, human resources management have been very important. This is due to the increasing complexity of regulation and recognition of the contribution of good to organisational competitiveness in human resource management. There are three particularly vital components of human resource management. The three are strategic importance, legal environments and social environments of human resource management. In human resource management legal environment, there should not have anti-discrimination. Sadly in there is, one of which is the sex stereotyping of women which happen as early as 1970s.

In the very beginning of human resource management, when it was a healthy welfare function, it coordinates with the stereotype of women's caring nature. Women as compared with men are seen as more moral. In the eyes of many in the past, men were seen to better than women. As it is assume that women is naturally caring, understanding, meticulous and is unable to do things that have require the use of physical strength. Taking China for example, women in the past are expected to stay in their house, anything that requires physical strength or knowledge, are taken care by the males.

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In the past, as human resource management is seen as welfare, thus there are more women working in that sector. In the eyes of men, as long as human resources management in general are perceived as insignificant in organizations and society, they are better left to women. Therefore women whom are working in the field of human resource management have been on the climb. Taking the United Sates as an example, the number of female working as human resource professionals has increased. Even countries like Australia (Trundinger 2004) and United Kingdom (Legge 1987) have shown similar trends.

Sadly as the occupation's importance increases, men started entering the field and thus causing the women to be put out of place. When human resources management occupation's states are higher, employers have a tendency to hire male for over females. This is one of the core arguments why women get put out of place (Reskin/Roos 1990).

For example, if the upcoming of the scientific testing instruments shift the image of human resources management from welfare to a professional occupation, there will be an increase of male human resources specialists (Trudinger 2004). As in the perspective of a male as long as there is anything which is significant in the organisation or society, women should not be part of it. Women should stay behind the scene.

From the above example, a connection is shown - connecting to the significance decrease and increase of women's representation or vice versa. This can be observed from the early stages of human resource management until the end of 1980s (Roos/Manley 1996). Contemporary documentation of feminization and status of human resources management cannot be found.

Both employers and employment candidates are based on rankings. Employers rank groups of potential employees into labour queues according to their attractiveness. For employment candidates, they rank potential jobs into job queues according to their desirability. This interaction between job and labour queues determines an occupation's gender composition, resulting in labour shortages which can create a chain of opportunities for lower-ranked groups in the labour queue. Women in the history of human resource management (Reskin/Roos 1990) are one of the examples.

The ideas have been influential for explaining the inroads of women in human resources management and a consequential significance loss of the occupation (Roos/Manley 1996). They cannot account for the current prominence increases of human resources management that occurred regardless of the inclusion of women in human resources management. Developments in human resource management are commonly being connected to the influx and outflow of men and women in diverse phase of time.

Human resource management which is known today arose from the 19th century legislation. During that period, legislation concerns were about the minimum age for employment and reduction of standard working hours which was aim in particular at children and women. During the beginning of the 20th century, the function was seen as social or welfare work. It is also being incorporated with the provision of health and safety, recreation and social institutions (Niven 1967). This early welfare work at the organizational level was first and foremost conducted by women.

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During the First World War, most of the organizational welfare workers were women from the United Kingdom (Legge 1987). The decision makers of human resource management's early rights were made by males. It existed solely for the passing factory legislation and sponsored women as welfare workers. This function unmistakably reflected stereotypical 'feminine' activities, tacitly assuming that women are more altruistic, nurturing, caring and moral than men (Legge 1987; Roos/Manley 1996). This early detection of personnel management with female welfare activities meant that the function would be defined as low-status and unimportant comparing to activities such as production or finances that only men were having (Legge 1987).

The understanding of health and safety issues and dysfunctional effects on production of long hours in potentially dangerous workplaces, such as military artillery, rose. As a result, United Kingdom councils and committees had to promote the appointment of welfare workers. Thus, there was a vast increase in the number of women in the human resource management. This in turn led to the high demand for welfare workers and lack of males in the workforce. During the event happened between both wars, it causes a development change in the characteristics of human resources management. This is also known as welfare work. A connection was made between welfare and efficacy.

In 1939, there was an influx of men into labour management. About 40 percent of labour managers were male. During the Second World War as compared to the First World War, the number of women rose due to the lack of male manpower. This turn event changes the picture of women completely after the Second World War.

Some decades after the Second World War, there were a huge decline of women in human resources management. Every decade, the percentage of women listed by the United Kingdom Institute of Person Management dipped. It dropped to an all time low at 20 percent in 1970. This shows a clear vertical segregation. The number of women in top human resources management positions was insignificantly small. When compared to the other management functions, human resources management in particular gained centrality and status.

Many of the human resources managers' salaries have other functions and there were also and there were a huge increase in the number of professional association's membership (Legge 1987). The increase of the states was generally accredited to the additional establishment of the assumed link between labour, manpower, personnel management and efficiency, together with industrial relations into the function. In United Kingdom, negotiations, wage determination and handling industrial disputes were stereotypically male activities in industrial relations. Even in United States, keeping the companies union free is one of the context moves to the centre of the human resources function (Legge 1987; Roos/Manley 1996).

A reverse development concerning sex composition of human resource management started around 1970. Women at that time started moving in to a variety of typically male occupations, few occupations have feminized as rapidly as human resources management (Roos/Manley 1996).

The general demand for human resource managers have went up significantly during that period. This was due to the environment factors that amplified the amount and functional content of human resources management. A rise in government employment regulations which in turn led to a higher demand for specialists administering the workforce conforming to the law or an increasingly diverse and better educated workforce requiring more training, development and career management programs is one of the example.

Developing is one of the most important aspects of human resource management, as it is being centred on and stressed by people. It also fits the stereotype of women's 'caring nature' (Gooch Ledwith 1996). There was an additional demand for human resource managers which was solely met by female human resource managers. Between 1970 and 1990, there was an increase of 7.5 percent for all managerial occupations. Comparing to the percentage of the men, there was a rise of only 0.4 percent in human resources management and an increase of 18.2 percent in other management areas. Even then, there were a significant percentage of women whom on average earned only about 60 percent as compared with men in the same positions. The decreasing income was due to men who still work in the human resources management (Roos/Manley 1996).

For a long time, welfare idea main aspect was human resources management. Its occupation was referenced and labelled as 'typical' female, as it was incorporated aim to a coherent system. It tends to take care of others when stereotypes are being used in the system (Gooch/Ledwith 1996). After the Second World War, female domination was interrupted when industrial relations became a component of human resource management. The occupation was re-interpreted as stereotypical male talents like negotiating, standing on ones grounds in disputes, and determining wage.

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In 1970s the focus of HRM shifted to more administrative work and stress on the importance on developing people and taking care of their careers within the organisation. Matching female stereotypes of administering personnel following pre-assigned rules and taking care of employees' development again made human management resource "a function dedicated to the management of people would seem to be 'ideal for women'" (Gooch/Ledwith 1996).

In conclusion, over the last decades, human resource management have often been connected with the inclusion of women into the human resource management occupation with the profession's loss of status. Such approaches on average have difficulties to explain a combined increase of status and feminization of human resource management, as they characterized developments from the 1990s onwards across Europe.

The developments can help to revolutionize the traditional subordination of women within human resources; it can also perpetuate stereotypes and encourage the concentration of women in this area. It has been seen as a most important reason for the subordination of the human resource field to other managerial functions (Legge 1987). While making use of the prevailing gender stereotypes for advancing women to higher ranks in human resource may possibly be easier than challenging them, the potential side effects of this strategy has placed the overall usefulness into question.

Harvard Referencing

Legge, K. (1987): Women in personnel management: Uphill climb or downhill slide? In: Spencer,. /Podmore, D. (Eds.): In a man's world: essays on women in male-dominated professions. Tavistock Publications: London: 33-60

Gooch, L./Ledwith, S. (1996): Women in Personnel Management - Re-visioning of a Handmaiden's Role? In: Ledwith, S./Colgan, F. (Eds.): Women in Organizations. Challenging Gender Politics. MacMillan Business: Houndmills: 99-124.

Niven, M. (1967): Personnel management 1913-1963. Institute of Personnel Management, London.

Reskin, B. F./Roos, P. A. (1990): Job Queues, Gender Queues: Explaining Women's Inroads into Male Occupations. Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA.

Roos, P. A./Manley, J. E. (1996): Staffing Personnel: Feminization and Change in Human Resource Management. In: Sociological Focus, 39(3): 245-261.

Trudinger, D. (2004): The Comfort of Men: A Critical History of Managerial and Professional Men in Post-war Modernisation, Australia 1945-1965 University of Sydney. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Sydney.