Technological and social changes will continue to transform aspects of public relations practices for long time. The most dramatic transformation in public relations has been the change from the male dominated field to the female dominated field.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

A glass ceiling: in PR?

Concerning ‘Status’ in the industry, Even though in the last couple of years women such as Diane Dixon, MaryLee Sachs and Helen Ostrowski have risen to the top of their agencies or departments, women in the upper echelons of management are still unusual in the PR industry. A study by D. Meyerson and J.Fletcher that was published in the Harvard Business review found that women only make up 10 percent of the senior managers in the Fortune 500 companies and less than 4 percent of the upper most ranks of CEOs, presidents and executive vice president.

Even though some women in PR have reached the top it is often seen cynically as compensatory feminism. Companies provide top level status to a select numbers of women as mere “window dressing’ without actually involving any real responsibility.

This is often seen at Board level and Cabinet Level of Government, and in itself is a form of PR. This approach is changing and as such most women in the top positions reject the idea of “Velvet Ghetto” as being out dated. Some have raised concerns that public relations is being viewed as “women’s work” and are calling it the “pink ghetto.”

Aedhmar Hynes, CEO of Text 100, commented:

“I have worked damned hard to get to where I am, but so have all the men who are in senior management positions.”

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

More people, less paying?

Isn’t it ironic that women dominate PR but within the industry men still earn more?

Why is this still happening?

I found several studies which have examined the salary disparities between men and women in PR. The first studies, starting in the 1980s, simply examined the gap without any consideration of the factors that could cause this difference.

However, PRWeek's Salary Survey (Table 1), included factors such as age and experience level, concluded that gender actually only accounts for 1% of the disparity in pay. Also, a current survey in PR Week showed the average age of males in the industry is 37.1 whereas females were 32.4. The male population in PR is older and as such more experienced, with any job experience tends to pay more.

Also men work longer hours than women at 49 compared to 46. This can be explained by the conflicting pressures on a women’s time. It can be demonstrated that family concerns reduce a woman’s earning power; the Independent Women’s Forum found childless young career women’s salaries were 98 % of men’s.

Finally, men earn more in PR because a higher percentage of men work in the higher paying disciplines; men still dominate the top jobs. For example, according to this year's survey the best paying PR sectors were industrial/manufacturing, financial services, and professional services and consulting. Those sectors employed mostly men. Otherwise, the lowest-paying sector, nonprofit and charity, employed women.

Although women now make up the majority of public relations workers, the difference in the average salary of males compared to female employees is statistically significant. That said such gender based salary gaps in public relations is complicated and hard to generalise

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Why women dominate PR profession?

Have women become a super breed in the world of PR, and why has it happened in this particular industry?

Personally, I think that women in PR have found a discipline where they can work and show self-confidence, assertiveness, a risk-taking attitude, and an accountability necessary for business success.

Kim Wilkes surmised that the major appeal of PR to women was because it blended creativity and business. More importantly, it is a field that lends itself to interrupted careers and freelancing for the working mother.
Could this be because women dominate PR, and as such, the industry is more open to the needs of female employees?
According to Greg Smith’s looked at why women are attracted to the PR industry. A total of 78% of professionals interviewed said that they were aware that most of those working in the industry were female. The most common reason put forward for the 'feminisation of PR' is that the industry is simply perceived as being feminine. This feminisation can be explained by the fact the industry is often perceived as being glamorous and a 'soft' career option.

Also PR departments and agencies seem preferred to employ female employees rather than males.

'We need people who can juggle tasks, keep calm and influence people - and women are good at that,' says Jo Marino, who heads up Waterstones' in-house PR team along with two female colleagues. She adds: 'I'd like to employ more men but then I've never come across a situation where I've thought we really needed a man.'

Neil Boom is MD of financial PR agency Gresham, the only man in the company and says he can empathise with this. He'd also like to employ more men, but admits he prefers working with women who, he says, are more cautious, less likely to speak off the cuff and more willing to take advice. 'Young men can be over-confident, with a slightly gung-ho approach,'.

So women are better suited to PR because they naturally have better communication skills. This theory may sound biased and come across as politically incorrect, but is commonly accepted. Gillian Rankin, a business psychologist at ML Consulting points out in PR Week,

'Women are recognised at being better at relationship building, which is crucial for dealing both with clients and the media…Also they have empathy with people and are more interested in interactive dialogue - listening as well as speaking.'
As public relations needs high levels of communication, women seem to adjust better than men. With the increasing feminisation of PR many young women are eager to work in the PR industry, so the gender shift in the industry shows no signs of slowing.