Why are there so few female Certified Occupational Hygienists?

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Tomorrow, all over the world, men and women will celebrate International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

I also thought it was a good opportunity to reflect on our own profession and take a look at the number of women in the top levels of Occupational Hygiene and see how we are going.

A quick search of all the listed Certified Occupational Hygienists (COHs) lead to the discovery that women comprise just over 25% of all COHs in Australia. To me this was surprising.

When I was studying at University, I remember thinking that the majority of the class was made up of women…and to quote a fellow Occupational Hygienist who shall not be named (but who has been profiled in the Young Hygienist Snapshots!), “Occupational Hygiene is the field with the most attractive women“…at the time I wasn’t sure of his previous industry so I didn’t really know if this was a compliment or not!

I guess 25% isn’t too bad when you compare it to the % of women in construction, mining, or general industry, but this is still pretty meagre in my opinion.

So why are they so few COH’s that are female? There are definitely a lot of female Occupational Hygienists…so what’s stopping them from taking the next step?

Is it because sitting the COH is more painful than giving birth? (Yes…it is…but it’s over in an hour, whereas labour lasts for days!)

Do you think that establishing a mentoring program would help? What are your thoughts on this and how we can boost this number?

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