A female professional is a rare face among the safety, particularly in leadership roles. The recent HSE Insights Survey revealed that the gender split ratio in the HSE field currently stands at 3:1 in favor of males. Women make up 42% of the worldwide employed population.
An image first comes to mind of a safety professional probably not that of a female safety director, or manager or officer but an old boys’ club, men armored in high-visibility jackets, wielding a clipboard and toolbox talking with workers. There are women who are in such roles and making a great impact with compared to their male counterparts while the numbers still remain low. Female Professional consistently makes up less than 30 percent of safety leadership position.
Occupational Health and Safety is an increasingly presenting profession and although the number of women entering is rising, however they are still underrepresented.
SPECIAL ISSUES FOR FEMALE PROFESIONAL IN HSE FIELD
There are some of the specific challenges that male professionals even don’t have to think about.
- Being a male-dominated industry, the safety profession can be very challenging for women.
- A major issue that a lot of women have to face is lack of mentors. Well experienced safety and health professionals look for other young men they could mentor and bring up. They may think it is unsuitable for women entering their field. Or they might refuse to accept it because mentorship is very critical. Usually with humour, they call you out in front of other guys. ‘She can’t do this. She’s going to break a nails.
- As in each and every field they have to cope with the issue of harassment in the workplace.
- Personal protective equipment is usually tailored to men, so finding equipment that fits properly is a challenge.
- There can be concerns around personal safety when working at remote camps.
- Ignorance of employers on the benefits of hiring female safety professionals as well as promoting them into leadership.
- As in most of the male-dominated industries, women are not being promoted to positions of seniority or enable them to make key safety-related decisions and offer better salary for it.
- Clearly existing pay gap between men and women.
THE PAY GAP
Although the Equal Pay Act was introduced in most of the countries, there still is long way to go to achieve gender analogy. The factor pay gap affects all sectors in safety and will make a career in safety less attractive to Female Professionals. The average hourly earnings of men was about 20% more than women. That means, it is estimated that women are paid around £10,000 less than men in the same roles.
FEMALE PROFESSIONALS THOSE HAVE SET A BAR IN OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Moreover lot of adversities and barriers, there are many women who are flourishing in safety and several who have made a huge impact and set a high bar in HSE field.
Here are some of torch bearers for upcoming female safety professionals.
- ADELE ABRAMS
Adele is a certified mine safety professional and president/owner of a Washington-based law firm focused on occupational and mine safety and health.
- ANDREA BALL
Andrea is a certified safety professional and director of safety and loss prevention at Holiday Inn Club Vacations in Kissimmee, FL. She is currently vice president of ASSE Region IV. other law. She also is a national representative of the American Society of Safety Engineers.
- MARISA FORTIN
Marisa has been the senior safety, health and environmental manager at Balfour Beatty Construction in San Diego for more than three years.
- ROSE MacMurray
Rose is a transportation safety professional who teaches and provides consulting, retired in 2011 as chief safety officer/assistant administrator at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
- Seiji Machida
Seiji was appointed director of the ILO’s Programme on Safety and Health at Work (Safe Work) in February 2010. An engineer, Machida joined the ILO in 1989 and has served in the Occupational Safety and Health Branch (Safe Work) and the East Asia Multidisciplinary Advisory Team (EASMAT). Prior to joining the ILO, Machida was senior occupational safety and health officer, Ministry of Labor, Japan.
- Judith Hackitt
Judith was appointed chair of Britain’s Health and Safety Commission in 2007 and became chair of HSE. She previously served as a commissioner from 2002 to 2005. Under her leadership, the board of HSE decided to take the lead in developing a new strategy that would recognize the many changes that continue to take place in occupational safety and health and industry and which present new challenges for the health and safety system as a whole. A renewed emphasis on the consultation process has earned widespread
- Paula Camping
Paula is the vice-president and chief safety officer for Energy Safety Canada, she is one of the few women at the C-suite level. When she first started out in the construction industry, she was surrounded by men. But she is setting out to change this.
Paula and a group of female safety professionals in Alberta have launched the Women in Occupational Health & Safety Society (WOHSS) to bring more women into the profession and support their advancement, from entry-level to the C-suite.
Women thinking of engaging in a role in safety should consider the impact their role will have on not just fellow colleagues, whose working status are made better by their decisions. Every EHS professional has the potential to impact the practice of EHS entire profession.It’s also important to educate employers on the benefits of hiring female safety professionals as well as promoting them into leadership roles.
It brings a good balance. Sometimes women put in a different likelihood into the profession and may bring in more compassion and understanding. Employers should encourage a gender parity mind-set, challenging stereotypes and bias and celebrating women’s achievements.
Companies should be more open-minded and they have the value for female safety professional as the best person for the job.