Actress Carey Mulligan has recently slated the label “strong woman” in the context of film as it implies women are inherently weak. There is certainly no inherent weakness when it comes to women in the world of comms, with PR being one of the few female dominated professions. A comprehensive study from industry body the PRCA found that 64% of PR workers were female – compared to just 47% of the overall workforce.
Why this is the case is a source of significant debate among industry commentators. The public’s unrealistic view of the PR industry – one which revolves around wacky stunts and schmoozing journalists – has clear roots in consumer and product public relations. While this may be seen (rather unprogressively) as being more attractive and suited to women with greater emotional intelligence than men, the reality is that this is a narrow part of an industry that includes less glamorous practice areas such as financial and scientific PR.
Women’s success in the industry is therefore likely to be rooted in the characteristics that are necessary to succeed when there a variety of stakeholders at play. Studies have shown that women tend to be more collaborative and participative than men, which has obvious benefits in a client focused and ideas-sharing industry like public relations.
While women may still be underrepresented in the workforce and in the boardroom, it’s clear they are thriving in the PR industry. While in many professions there are support groups for women to encourage career progression, male versions aren’t unfeasible in the communications industry given current trends.