Our first year students participated in some IPR research into their motivations for studying PR at university. The result: confirmation that they are 90% female and that they’re vocationally-minded.
Things haven’t changed much in 13 years. When I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Mass Comm/PR in 1991 my class was majority female. My classes were usually 24 women and 2 men. I remember a prof. handing out an article as a warning to us (it might have been from the PRSA organ) called “The Velvet Ghetto” about how the prevalence of women in PR was tied to low wages.
After 2 years in corp comm, I went into tech PR at an agency, and there was about a 60-40 split (women to men). Pay was pretty good (the tech crash has changed that somewhat).
I wonder three things:
1)Do these numbers still remain when looking at practicing professionals?
2)If (1) is true, does this contribute to the poor reputation of PR? (I am getting at gender bias here.)
3)And why are there no PR business bloggers (def: primarily blogging about PR) who are female except me? I am looking, but I can’t find them.
My surprise at the female/male ratio among PR students is not based on gender bias, but on historical precendent. (As is well known, there’s a whole scientific literature on the stronger communication and multitasking skills among females.)
When I joined a technology-specialist consultancy in 1989, the account handlers were 90% male. That said, my best hires were subsequently female.
Elizabeth stands out as a technology specialist and as a PR blogger. She’s all the more special for being such a rarity!
But there does seem to be a reticence among women when it comes to publishing. Are men the more natural exhibitionists?
Getting into the psychological aspect – I think it is harder for women to publicize themselves, as it requires that they believe they have something worthwhile to say. I am constantly astounded by incredibly successful, amazing women who believe they got where they are accidentally, who feel they need to apologize for being successful. Who feel that what they have to say is ultimately unimportant. It is not only a self-esteem problem. It goes against societal precedent (still all-too-prevalent) for women to speak out on behalf of themselves.
As a manager and mentor, I constantly remind women (and men) that doing PR for oneself is very important to their careers and ultimate success (in whatever industry they end up in).
Maybe that self-effacement is one reason women are good at PR. PR is often played out in the background. The executive is the star, the PR person is invisible. PR people can’t have large egos (or, at least, they need to know when to put their egos on hold!). Maybe that is easier for women.
Anyway, I know I am making a slew of generalizations here [and may be called on the mat – raising gender issues generally results in some level of flogging], so consider this post as me speaking from some personal experience. Hell, I struggle against self-doubt all of the time. But, my urge to contribute, to communicate, (and sometimes sheer orneriness) usually wins!
Only in the world of PR…
…could a survey take place where the most interesting fact reported was that 90% of the respondents were female. PR Studies (nicely black and white and red all over) covers the stunning revelations. The IPR survey press release reports the
The PR gender bias
I am conducting a PhD study (Australian) on the predominance of women in PR. A summary of the information (to date) can be found at the listed web site. Stats in Australia show 74% of the industry to be female, and rising.
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