Friday, 20 February 2009

Will women rule in PR? The debate

In my previous post, I talked about feminisation in PR. On this post I'll talk about the debate which really got people emotional in class. The motion: 'Women will always work in PR but never run it.' Mmhh! To start with, I think this statement is just too exaggerated. I opposed this motion because to use the word 'never' is not right. I mentioned briefly about this in my previous post, that I strongly disagreed because we had women running the industry even when it was male dominated. I gave some examples in my earlier discussion.

Those who supported the motion, gave a list of qualities and past theories to justify why women will never run the industry. Some of their arguments included discriminating gender qualities to handling of PR jobs, such as lack of self confidence, occupational stress, soft to be managers and many more.

It was rather sad to hear a fellow female pursuing PR to say that "a lot of women think they have it but they don’t." If we cannot believe in and empower ourselves as women who will do it for us? This puzzled me. Just because there are many men at top positions does not mean that women will never achieve the same. Having many women run the industry is just a matter of time as change is already in the works.

To explain how this process is gradual, we must understand that it's only in recent years we have seen more women in PR. Larissa Grunig in Perspective on Public Relations, explained this in 5 feminist phases showing evolution of how women got accepted in this field. They include:
1. Male scholarship - The field was mainly predominant by men. Despite women's contributions, their roles were ignored.
2. Compensatory -Progress was noticed, women's contribution and experience was accepted.
3. Bifocal - Both men and women perceived to be separate and equal sexes. Women trying to self actualise themselves and overcome sexism at this stage
4. Feminist -- Women were more confident here and their activities became central
5. Multi focal --this phase redefines the field and develops understanding of men's and women's experience to achieve knowledge and practice that's truly inclusive.

This means women have made great strides considering that in the past they had no rights. Currently we can see many associations, groups and organisations exclusively for female PR practitioners such as Washington Women in PR (WWPR) and the Women in PR Group for Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

According to PR Week, articles and other studies, women now account for about 70 per cent in the industry, and many more are enrolling for degree courses in PR to equip themselves to add to the skills they already have. Fewer men are now joining PR. All this means women already have a strong base to fight the stumbling blocks to push their way to the top.

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