What’s it Like to Be a Woman in Recruitment?

Recruitment as an industry has seen a dramatic shift in mindset in recent years. The sector has moved away from the misogynistic boys’ club mentality that populated the 80s and 90s. Having said this, inequality is rife in all industries and there is still a lot that needs to be done to ensure that women work in an environment which is safe, comfortable and presents equal opportunities.

As a result, we spoke to our very own Frankie Chantell and Trilly Martin, to discuss what it’s actually like to be a woman in recruitment.

What are the stats?

Whenever there are discussions surrounding gender diversity, there are always a minority who don’t see a problem. This is why we’ve found some cold, hard facts to spell out exactly why gender diversity in the workplace remains an issue which needs remedying.

These facts and figures are for the UK as a whole, not just the recruitment industry:

  • In the UK, for every £1 earned by a man, a woman earns 81p
  • Only 9.7% of executive positions in FTSE 100 companies are held by women
  • 78% of UK firms pay men more than women
  • Only 8% of women say they have never experienced gender bias in the workplace
  • At the current rate, it will take 217 years to close the economic gender gap
  • 1 in 10 women have experienced sexual harassment at work
  • Over 50% of tribunal cases involve sex discrimination
  • For every 100 men promoted to managerial level, only 79 women are promoted

Recruitment is taking steps in the right direction and businesses are seeing the benefits. In fact, businesses which show more equality in their hiring processes are thriving as a result:

  • Employees who work for a female manager are six times more engaged, on average, than those who work for a male manager
  • On average, having women in leadership positions aligned with a 15% increase in profitability
  • Unleashing the full potential of women in the workplace could be worth £23 billion to the economy

What’s it like being a woman in recruitment?


“It is absolutely great – Women have the advantage of being able to multi-task, emotionally in tune and usually build good rapport with clients/candidates. I think you need to be strong minded, ambitious and appreciate that nothing is personal and be able to bounce back quickly.”


“Most recruitment companies have male dominated environments, which some women may not feel 100% comfortable in. However, I believe if you have the right characteristics / attributes, there is a fantastic opportunity to earn really good money and progress in your career.

Women with a feisty, competitive edge and ambitious attitude would thrive on working in an environment where they are surrounded with people on the same wavelength as them, whether this is male dominated or not.”

How has the industry changed in regards to its treatment and attitudes of women?


“I think recruitment used to be a male-dominated industry and had a stereotype of being over-zealous with sales floor flirting with what was deemed acceptable ‘banter’. However, now you see a lot of women who are future leaders / CEOs / recruitment owners who are absolutely killing it and proving to be just as successful.”


“We are now seeing more women emerge in positions of authority / responsibility which has a huge influence on every industry. I know many successful women in recruitment, and some are founders and directors, but I believe we will start to see even more ladies leading departments and businesses as time goes on.”

Do you believe there are equal opportunities for women in recruitment?


“Yes absolutely, it doesn’t matter what gender you are, it is all about having the right attitude, determination and drive to want to be successful. You can achieve anything you want when you put your mind to it, there are no limits to your success!”


“Even in my current business, one of our directors is female and our managing consultant (and frequent top biller) is also a lady, this shows, there is an equal opportunity to carve out a career no matter what your gender.”

What needs to be done to take the industry to the next level?


“I think the industry is changing, more recruitment companies are now focusing on work-life balance and wanting to create a healthy mindset and environment, which I think is great!”

How has working at RULE (or in recruitment generally) been different from other experiences in your career?


“Working in the industry has given me structure and more determination to achieve my goals. I like to progress and get more knowledgeable about the different industries we work with. I think it is one of the only industries where your earning potential is uncapped – for me, seeing myself progress both in terms of salary, mindset and intellectually is one of my biggest achievement yet.”


“Before working at RULE, I was an Estate Agent for over 2 years, which I also found to be a male dominated environment. I found the challenges between being a Sales Negotiator in Estate Agency and working in Recruitment very similar.

The main challenges have been a greater emphasis on problem solving and overcoming issues before they occur so you can tackle them head on and use negotiation tactics.”

Do you think being a woman in recruitment has given you any benefits over other team members?


“No, I believe no matter who you are, if you have the hunger and determination to run through a brick wall, you will be successful!

The trouble is, people think being successful happens overnight, but in fact, you need to become obsessive and go above and beyond the normal working day to be the best in anything! Everything in life needs to be earned, starting out is the hardest, but then with practice and commitment 2 years later, you will be flying and it will be worth it!”


“I don’t think being a woman in Recruitment gives you a benefit over other members of the team at all. Ultimately, no one cares weather you’re a man or a woman, it’s all about finding the skills that you have, expanding them and using them to your benefit.”

What challenges do you think women still face in the recruitment industry?


“Personally, I haven’t experienced any challenges just because I’m a woman. I have spoken to some Directors who are male, and were very firm / showed a lot of authority and are a little old school in their approach – which made me feel a little intimidated, but it didn’t hold me back. In the long run it’s their loss and there are plenty more companies where you can build good relationships. Respect should be given by both parties!”


“I don’t think there are many challenges which women deal with that differ from those men deal with as well. But, because recruitment is more of a male dominated workplace, you need to be fully confident in yourself and your skills/abilities in order to handle the ‘male banter’ and rejection on a daily basis.

Not all women want to work in an environment like this, which I can appreciate, but I suppose you have to be more of a confident and assertive person to take control in a workplace like this.”

Have you, or anyone you know, ever experienced sexism in the workplace?


“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced sexism in the workplace, however an aspect of my job is to build rapport with my clients and candidates. I did once have a candidate who thought that we got on really well, and he felt there was a romantic spark… Recruiters are definitely known for their ‘good chat’ which probably comes into play when dating in your personal life. However, work is work, and people need to understand that if you’re being friendly, it doesn’t mean you want to date them.”

Do you feel like anyone treats you differently as a woman in recruitment?


“I don’t think I get treated differently because I am a woman, however, I do feel like I get treated differently due to my level of experience. However, I think you just need to be confident and realise that candidates/clients need your help as much as you need theirs.”


“I wouldn’t say I get treated any differently as a woman in recruitment.”

Experiencing Misogyny in Recruitment?

If you work in an environment where you experience misogyny or a lack of equal opportunities, it doesn’t have to be the way. While the industry has largely changed, there will always remain a select few agencies which are stuck in the past.

Don’t let your negative experiences tarnish the industry as a whole. We work with some of the best agencies in the country and internationally. These are agencies which offer opportunities to successful recruiters, irrelevant of gender. All you need is a tenacious and resilient attitude coupled with a hunger for success.

If you’d like to have a confidential conversation about your career path, feel free to contact us today so we can explore your options. Upload your CV below and we’ll be in touch. Alternatively, browse our job board to get a feel for the type of vacancies we currently have on offer.

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market opportunities – 020 3031 1666.