Christine Barney|Mar 9, 2012

March 8 was International Women’s Day, and I had an opportunity to speak with PR News about the state of women within the PR industry. You can read the full story here, and see my thoughts below.

rbb is a 100% women-owned PR firm. I and my two partners would be among the loudest speakers praising how the field provides great challenge, intellectual stimulation and rewards.

However, PR is now a female-dominated field. Our firm is 75 percent women and the future looks like it holds more of the same. For example, the last three PR classes we had come and do tours from area universities were comprised 100 percent of female students. This is not a good thing.

While many women find the career’s flexibility and diversity to be attractive,  those same attributes have branded PR as a great track for part-timers, telecommuters and those seeking alternate career tracks. The lack of men being interested in pursuing PR careers reinforces stereotypes and has downward pressure on salaries and billing rates.

While the PR ranks are full of robust independent firms owned by women, the same cannot be said of the management ranks of the large PR firms. Considering the large number of women in the lower ranks, it is astounding not to see more women at the upper management level. Diversity is an issue every industry seeks to address.

To be politically correct, companies and  associations all add diversity task forces. Yet, no one seems too interested in studying the lack of gender diversity in PR or why all those women at the lower ranks fail to rise to the top. On International Women’s Day, I would suggest we praise the accomplishments of the many women who have molded the PR industry into what it is today, but I offer a warning note of caution that should the field fail to find a way to keep the gender balance equal at ALL levels, the opportunities for all of us will be diminished.


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