“What do you do for work?” “What do you want to do?” “What do you study?”
I cannot tell you how many times when asked these questions and I answer public relations. I get the overheard response of “Oh so you want to be like Samantha from Sex and the City?!” No, but here are a few of my thoughts and experiences being a real woman in PR.
Recently, I got featured on a list of 50 PR female bloggers in the UK compiled by Sarah Stimson. At first, I was excited to get mentioned and excited to read the other blogs. Afterwards, I did a little research on why this list was created. It started when Vuelio posted an article of the top 10 PR blogs in the UK. What is surprising is that not one of the ten listed blogs was run by a woman. Sarah was apparently just as shocked as I was about the situation and took action. She tweeted about the issue and in response posted a blog and sent a list back to Vuelio of her 50 female PR bloggers in the UK so they could make a list of the top 10 female bloggers in the UK.
While I was just caught up in the action because my blog was on the list. It really sheds light on the gender makeup of the PR industry. In the UK, the industry is dominated by women. In the classroom, it is the same. Out of the 39 students I studied with this past year in my PR postgraduate course, 8 were male and 31 were female.
The graphs above point at although the industry is dominated by women, they make up far less of the executive roles. So I went back to these top 10 PR blogs by Vuelio and looked deeper, interestingly enough, 7 out of the 10 blogs listed were men whose job titles included one or more of the following: CEO, Chief, Director, Founder, or Owner. This is not meant to discredit the accomplishments or success these men have made in the PR field.
An article by Edelman points out, “Despite industry estimates that women make up two-thirds of the industry’s workforce, a 2011 PRWeek story states: “Women still make up less than half of the executive committee roles at most large PR firms and only four women lead agencies with more than $100 million in global revenue.”
This feature on Sarah’s blog of 50 female PR bloggers in the UK ended up holding more meaning than I thought. The reason I continued on with my postgraduate degree in PR was so that I did not hit a glass ceiling in my career 10 or 15 years down the line. It was in hopes that one day I could hold a role as chief, director, or owner. So yes I am a woman in PR but no my life is nothing like Samantha Jones. She definitely is not the best woman role model for the PR industry. In actuality, there are a number of real, inspiring PR pros that are women. This Samantha Jones PR image persists for a number of reasons, but I think it is because there are not enough women in senior management roles especially at agencies, so we all fall back on Sex and the City’s portrayal. The PR industry still has strides to make as far as gender quality and diversity goes. For PR to achieve its true potential of communicating to various audiences on a global scale, we must have diverse perspectives at all levels and positions.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below and let me know about your own experiences of diversity in school, the workplace, or life!