We have all seen the television shows and movies portraying public relations professionals. Last week, our blog explored these stereotypes of independent, sexy women by examining characters like Samantha Jones of Sex and the City fame. We see this type of woman portrayed in the media all the time, but where are all the men in the public relations world?
According to the Public Relations Society of America’s podcast Endangered Species — Men in Public Relations?, women make up 70 percent of PRSA membership, leaving only 30 percent for men. Even more startling, women comprise 90 percent of Public Relations Student Society of America membership, with men only holding 10 percent of membership. These are shocking differences that show the increasing trend of men absent in the PR field.
Dr. Rochelle Ford of Howard University discusses why men are shying away from professions in public relations during the PRSA podcast. She says, “Focus group research reveals men see public relations as a ‘female’ profession, less respected than other corporate functions, such as marketing and finance.” Ford also says that the lower salaries associated with entry-level public relations positions could deter men from the field.
So, why is the gender gap a problem for the public relations field and what can we do to bridge the gap?
If the trend of female domination of the PR profession continues, men will become extinct in the public relations field and the industry will lack diversity. Women and men have different worldviews and perspectives, and without the male perspective, public relations could become a one-sided profession.
We may not be able to bridge this gap immediately, but we can take several steps to encourage men to look at public relations more closely as a career option or field of study. We need to educate everyone, especially men, about PR and what being a PR professional really entails. Although it is fun to wish for Samantha Jones’ lifestyle, we must realize that lifestyle is only a fantasy for most. Once men see that PR is not just for women with great style and an unlimited credit card, they are more likely to explore public relations as a career option.
Even though women still outnumber men on the planet, we must continue to diversify the public relations field to include more men. Men may be from Mars and women from Venus, but that could be just the type of diversity public relations needs.
By Jessica Boyd