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August 05, 2011

PRSA Chair: PR Making Progress to Improve Gender Diversity — PRCA Blog Guest Post

PRSA Chair and CEO Rosanna M. Fiske, APR, writes about the gender divide in public relations and what steps the profession should take to introduce more women to senior-level management positions in a guest post titled, “PR — A Female-Dominated Industry," in the Public Relations Consultants Association blog. The post reflects on results of the 2011 U.K. PR Census, which found that the U.K. public relations industry is comprised of 64 percent women.

PR — A Female-Dominated Industry
By Rosanna M. Fiske, APR
Published: Aug. 5, 2011

The finding in the 2011 PR Census that 64 percent of the UK public relations workforce is female is not surprising. This trend has played out for almost two decades, as starting in the 1980s, more women than men began graduating from college. In many ways, this isn’t a bad thing at all. In 1970, according to Ragan’s PRDaily, women made up only 27 per cent of the U.S. PR workforce. Clearly, we’ve come a very long way over the past four decades.
Today, that number ranges from 65–80 percent. PRSA’s 2011 member survey bears this true, finding that that 70 per cent of our members are female.
All of which may explain why the public’s first thought of a PR professional is often Samantha Jones from “Sex and the City.”  I think I can speak for every PR pro when I say that while she's entertaining, she is in no way our profession’s top role model.
But the image persists for a variety of reasons. And it’s absolutely something the global public relations industry will need to do more to address in the coming years. As a female, I’m proud of the vital role women play in our profession; but I’m also cognizant of the fact that there are still far too few women in senior leadership positions, particularly at the agency level.
Equally troubling is the gender-based salary gap between male and female PR professionals in the U.S., which Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D., APR, chair of PRSA’s Work, Life and Gender Committee, researched earlier this year.
If we are going to properly address both issues, and not just give them lip-service, then much of our advocacy work will need to focus on educating and influencing the agencies. Our members tell us that diversity within the profession — gender, racial and ethnic — will be key to their agencies' long-term success, as businesses continue to seek a more global perspective to their communications and marketing initiatives.
Read the rest of the post here.
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