It seems to me that human resources has become one of those gender-specific jobs, like logger or cocktail waitress. In my experience, HR is overwhelmingly female, and these are the people who have the power to hire or fire you.
In my limited experience working with female supervisors, I have found them to be less forgiving and less considerate, possibly because they think that men only respond well to abusive slave-driver types. I have also noticed that they are far less likely to directly warn workers or inform them in plain terms that they are dissatisfied. This tends to make male workers feel that their authority is capricious and cruel, and that they can be terminated for anything at any time.
The end result is that men and particularly men of a certain type are being pushed out of certain occupations and organizations, and find themselves driven to more exclusively male lines of work, such as construction, driving and law enforcement, and this may explain why men’s unemployment is so much higher than women’s in the current recession. In fact, I would say that the increasing domination of the corporate world by women in middle management especially HR has greatly restricted occupational options for younger men, even as senior male managers go out of their way to foster and accommodate women.
What I’d like to know if this corresponds with greater productivity. I suspect that it does not, but I’d have to see the numbers.
One theory I have heard is that senior male managers use females in middle management to keep workers in line and more easily fire people, because they have less of a sense of responsibility for those who work under them. This leads to a more humble and frightened work force, and despite warm and fuzzy talk about wanting “satisfied” workers, perhaps corporate bosses (almost all male) actually want the people working for them to live in fear. A scared and humble work force will go the extra mile to avoid being fired, and will work for less compensation.
I am curious as to whether readers have observed the same. Has the introduction of women into management fundamentally changed the way we work? If so, has their arrival been accompanied by fear and insecurity in the workplace, or has it been positive on the balance? We ought to have these discussions, because women are not going to leave the workforce any time soon, and perhaps it’s time to figure out how we might mitigate some of the negative effects.
Given that there has been a lot of speculation recently about how women will dominate the economy (or what’s left of it) in the future, these are perfectly reasonable concerns for men.