Women’s pay in PR

26 Jun

The gender pay gap is once again in the news. Decades after the introduction of equal pay legislation, the figures are often startling. Take public relations: here’s a field in which women clearly do well (being in the majority in our industry by 62% to 38% according to the study mentioned below).

Yet research for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in 2005 suggested a stubborn pay gap remained. The average salary for all men working in PR was recorded as £57,165. The figure was £39,507 for women (these figures are on page 50 of the report). What can explain this gap?

Averages can be misleading, since men are disporportionately well-represented at the most senior levels. So the gap may not mean that men are earning more for doing the same work as women. But what else?

I’m inclined to think there may be some male boastfulness or female bashfulness involved. There are ways to compare salaries without this bias, but it’s likely that people were asked to volunteer their earnings on a questionnaire.

But the most compelling rationalisation of these surprising figures came from a first year student in a lecture theatre. Could it be he asked (note this came from a male student), that men tend to choose the better paying roles and sectors (financial, public affairs, corporate), and women the less well paid (such as consumer PR). It’s a good explanation, I think. Do you have a better one?

5 Responses to “Women’s pay in PR”

  1. ourmanwhere@gmail.com 26/06/2008 at 11:47 am #

    I’m not sure where to start with this. First off… £57,165. I know I am public sector and northern but, how much? Jeez.
    I can honestly say that the jobs going in private sector here pay even less.
    I will say this – most of the men I know in PR are former hacks so have come into this industry at a relatively high level with good skills. Most women I know are PR graduates who have started at the bottom.
    That also means the men, on average, tend to be older – in what is still a young industry. Many of those graduates are still making their career journey. I have to admit though that this is only anecdotal evidence I have no numbers to back this up.
    I have never, having worked in-house and agency come across a situation where a woman is paid less because she is a woman. So this must be more of an issue of why women in PR are not getting higher.
    One final possibility – I never cease to be amazed at the PR company new appointment pieces. Judging by the photos it seems that 99%of women entering out industry are absolutely stunning (no doubt appointed by men).
    If women are appointed for their looks and men their brains – then it is hardly surprising that men advance further.

  2. Stephen Davies 26/06/2008 at 12:28 pm #

    Those average salaries can’t be correct. Even if the survey was taken from a London centric point of view they still seem too high.
    From anecdotal evidence an account manager at a good London agency is earning around a 40k salary. Surely there are more AM, SAEs, AEs and JAEs than senior staff? Here’s a job ad from PR Week for an AM in central London:
    http://www.prweekjobs.co.uk/job/309112/account-manager
    30k!
    The numbers just don’t add up. If I’m an average PR male working in an average agency in an average location I’d be earning over 57k salary. I wish!🙂

  3. Richard Bailey 26/06/2008 at 12:44 pm #

    Thanks, both. There are indeed more reasons than just the gender pay gap for finding those average salaries from the research study surprising.
    I still think some (male) exaggeration is a plausible explanation of the apparent gap, too.

  4. Stuart Bruce 26/06/2008 at 5:50 pm #

    The Fawcett Society has some good insights into the pay gap and basically it says that it’s all of the above:
    > a disproportionate number of men at a senior level and women at a junior level does seriously distort the average
    > assuming pay rises every year then time out for maternity leave creates a gap
    > Most PR companies don’t have any sort of standardised pay structure, which usually works agains equal opportunities. There is academic research data that says men demand more, and therefore get more. Without a scale or spine as exists in the public sector and some big corporates then this creates massive gaps.
    > Salary secrecy – if you don’t know what the people around you are earning then it is harder to demand your fair share
    > Sector is definitely releveant – specialists get more (tech/financial/crisis etc), consumer generalists get less
    And finally I agree with Stephen, those averages are well above any sort of reality I’ve ever seen – in the regions or London

  5. Greg Smith 27/06/2008 at 12:57 am #

    From an Aussie perspective, results of my 2006 PhD study, based in Perth, showed little difference (2-3%) in salary between males and females (55 sampled). However, anecodotal evidence suggests this gap widens slightly in Sydney. Full study at http://people.aapt.net.au/~net/study/

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