Friday, 5 March 2010

Will Women ever run PR?

The debate is, will women ever run PR?

“The past 20 years have seen an influx of women into the practice of public relations, yet gender-based disparities in pay and advancement remain a troubling reality. As the field becomes feminized, moreover, female and male practitioners alike confront the prospect of dwindling salaries and prestige.” Gruning (2001;p.4)

PR is considered a female profession; most students on PR courses are women. Which should imply that women run PR, however that is not the case. Many women have the lower level positions, and as soon as the talk is about managerial positions, they are mostly occupied by men.

The reason behind this I would think is that women need to make a really hard choice: career or family? The discussion is that most women do not want the higher positions as they are forced to do the same job as a man but for a lower pay.

In a study conducted in Melbourne has revealed that most women are opting for a healthy family life rather a career. The survey says women are shifting from a “perfectionist” attitude and rate their family, seeing friends, keeping fit, further study and community work as more important than pursuing their career.

Where as in this study Israeli women managers balance careers, family” the Israeli women believe that you can not separate that, you can have both. Their conditions might not be as favorable, but Israeli women managers refuse to sacrifice family for career. In fact, according to Hagit Yerushalmi, who wrote an award-winning master's thesis on "Women in Management," almost all Israeli women senior managers are married and have children while climbing the corporate ladder, unlike the Americans who usually remain either unmarried or childless until their careers are established or even beyond.

From both studies women feel that there is an absence of female role models in business management. Women in management tend to become invisible. They are either ignored by their male colleagues, or contribute to their own invisibility by dressing and acting in a way so as not to draw attention to their sex.
As to why there is a lack of women in top management positions, Yerushalmi points out that studies have shown that there are "gender schemes" which affect expectations of men and women and how their work and performance as individuals are evaluated.

"If a man is appointed and fails, everyone will say, 'He made a mistake.' If the same thing happens to a woman, people will say, 'Why did we appoint a woman?' Appointing a woman is perceived as taking a greater risk. This is the glass ceiling."

Until women in the western world find a way to have both, career and family, they will only work in PR but will never run it.

Gruning, L., Toth, E. and Hon, L. (2001). Women in Public Relations: How Gender Influences Practice. A Division of Guilford Publications. New York

Lichtman, G. (2002). Study: Israeli women managers balance careers, family. Jerusalem Post Service

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