men on top?

There are far better things to be judged on than getting chosen to speak at an event, but it’s time women took a bigger role.

via Male dominance still appears rife, even in digital PR | Opinion | New Media Age.

In this piece, Vikki Chowney follows up on discussions last week about why the entire panel at the future of comms event (PRCA) this week is male.

I think the issue can be broken down into 3 main areas:

1 – how many senior PR personnel are women

2 – if this is imbalanced, what can the industry do to prevent women leaving the PR industry (knowing when and why would be a start…)

3 – Why aren’t women in senior positions speaking at or attending important industry events and how can this be changed?

In my opinion, the best thing we can do is make a positive change to address the balance be it as employees, employers, mentors, mentees or industry participants.  The situation will not change unless we change it.

Here are my thoughts on Vikki’s piece, as commented on the site.

Hi Vikki,

Thanks for writing this piece….easy to accept the general response that women were invited top attend panels but couldn’t attend(see my tweets re: the event that morning) but I agree, it is a cop out.

I think the issue goes a lot deeper.  I am planning on writing a response on my blog but in short(ish!), the PR industry is 70% female, it is getting harder and harder to attract men into the industry according to the PR uni course leaders yet last year, only 24 of the PR Week Powerbook were female, only 5% of PR Week top practitioners were female and not one woman is booked to attend the PRCA future of the industry panel this week.

I too was tweeting Reda and Jaz about this and am meeting the PRCA next week to discuss how to attract women to attend events.

A lot of senior women are also working Mums and responsible for childcare drop offs and pick ups,  This makes breakfast and evening events difficult to attend.  Taking myself for example, as much as I love the industry, I love putting my children to bed too.

Also, regarding stemming the loss of senior women from the industry after having kids, many companies pay lipservice to flexible working policies but do they really walk the walk? Do they encourage home working? Flexitime? Job shares?

The last 5 headhunter calls/LinkedIns I have had (for MD or dep MD jobs) have been cut very short when I have asked if the role is possible to be done a) part time, b) flexible hours or c) with some remote working……I don’t believe the agencies being recruited for are in the minority either…

More and more people with families are moving outside of London meaning evening/morning networking is even harder.  Ditto the increased uptake of webcasts and conference calls, great ways of staying in touch and up to date but the downside is they result in less physical interaction with peers and industry events.

This is a really important issue for our industry, thanks again for keeping it in people’s minds.

Becky

3 comments

  1. John · March 22, 2011

    As a former head of comms at a government agency, I saw far more senior media relations, PR and marketing roles in the public sector being held by women. This is almost certainly because of employment conditions which enable working patterns to co-exist happily with childcare (including flexitime, home working, 30-days holiday, term-time working options etc). Many had switched from the private sector. But there still seems to be a suspicion that those who enjoy such working patterns are somehow getting an ‘easy life’ and productivity can still only be measured by hours spent, not results achieved. Perhaps the way to balance out the events you mention is to seek female contributors from the public sector specifically to talk about how to achieve good results with flexible working policies (But please don’t start the discussion too early – I like to be able to drop my son off for his school bus too.)

    • Rebecca McMichael · March 22, 2011

      Thanks for stopping by John and you make some great points there. I am lucky in as much as the agency I work for – Ruder Finn – has let me both introduce and benefit from a fabulous flexible working policy and measures outputs and not facetime from its employees….something many more could learn from I am sure!

      Am just launching a networking event for working Mums in marketing, PR and media so will definitely be in touch re: possible speakers! Thanks, Becky

  2. Kate · March 22, 2011

    Couldn’t agree more. I gather that the PRCA is doing some research into the split of senior (director level) women in agencies, measured against the average number of women v men in agencies, so will be interesting to see the results.

    Diversity as a wider issue is a real problem in our industry – particularly in race, socio-economic background, age (something I’m increasingly interested in!), and disability, but of course also gender and sexuality. Hopefully the PRCA’s diversity and equality commission, set up this year, will help to address some of these issues.

    The debate tomorrow will be interesting, I think. If future agencies aren’t structured so they reflect the wider population to whom we promote products and services, then we’ll have a real problem on our hands.

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