From an interview with John Sumser in HRExecutive about the HRxAnalyst’s Report, What HR Thinks and Feels:
HRE: The HRxAnalysts finding that HR has become vastly female-dominated doesn’t seem to surprise people, but it has been sparking lots of conversations, hasn’t it?
SUMSER: I am in my late 50s and I remember when it was a big deal for a married woman to have a credit card of her own. It’s not that long ago. It’s a generation at most. The extraordinary continued success of women in the workforce has its first beachhead in HR. That’s really interesting. I’m less clear that the report found that this is a trend that is continuing, but it’s already there — the majority of the people in HR are women.
It’s what often happens in civil-rights movements. The move to integrate the minority into the majority ends up with something that’s simultaneously successful and a ghetto. It happens all the time.
The dynamic is that the easiest place to accomplish the solution to the problem becomes the next place where the problem exists. So part of what you see in HR is that it’s a staff function and staff functions do not have lots of authority in the organization.
Authority comes in line functions. Line managers get to say, ‘Do this, do that.’ Staff people get to say, ‘We think it would be a good idea if you do this or do that’ or ‘We recommend that you do this or do that.’