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.


25 facts about women (for International Women’s Day 2011) #iwd

In honour of tomorrow being the 100th International Women’s Day, I have compiled a (hopefully interesting, if not useful) list of 25  facts about Women.  I have linked to/ quoted the source where possible.

In addition to first world problems of gender inequality, pay discrepancies, increase in female cancers etc. women in the developing world often face an insurmountable battle for basics such as birthing and raising children, surviving childbirth or education. Even in my own industry, the discrepancy between the percentage of women in PR and % at the top of their career is a genuine concern and in our own government, women are still woefully under-represented.

I’ll be talking to women in business over the coming weeks to see what they think needs to change in the UK to support working women and how they are approaching careers and family life but for now, here are some stats about Women across the globe.

  1. International Women’s Day is held each year on March 8. The annual event was first observed worldwide in 1909
  2. Women in the world’s least developed countries are 300 times more likely to die during childbirth or because of their pregnancy than those in the UK and other similarly developed countries (
  3. The Old English wifman meant “female human”……this was later coalesced to create the modern form “woman”.  The initial element, which meant “female,” underwent semantic narrowing to the sense of a married woman (“wife”) (wikipedia)
  4. The symbol for the planet Venus is the sign also used in biology for the female sex. It is a stylized representation of the goddess Venus’s hand mirror or an abstract symbol for the goddess: a circle with a small equilateral cross underneath (Unicode: ♀). The Venus symbol also represented femininity, and in ancient alchemy stood for copper. Alchemists constructed the symbol from a circle (representing spirit) above an equilateral cross (representing matter). (wikipedia)
  5. 16% of Fortune 500 companies have women on their board of directors in 2008, up from 11.2% in 1998. At this rate, they figure, it will take 40 years for there to be equal women to men represented on boards in the US. (Catalyst)
  6. In the US,  female-run start-ups more than doubled male-run from 1997-2005
  7. In the past, mortality rates for females in child-bearing age groups were higher than for males at the same age. This is no longer the case, and female human life expectancy is considerably higher than those of men
  8. In mid-2007 there were 31.0 million women compared with 29.9 million men in the UK population. (ONS)
  9. Men are ten times more likely than women to be employed in skilled trades (19 per cent compared with 2 per cent) and are also more likely to be managers and senior officials. A fifth of women in employment do administrative or secretarial work compared with 4 per cent of men. (ONS)
  10. In Great Britain, men are more likely than women to exceed the recommended daily limits for consumption of alcohol. (ONS)
  11. Among young adults (aged 16-19) more women (26 per cent) smoke than men (23 per cent) (ONS)
  12. More than two thirds of working-age women with dependent children (68 per cent) were in employment in 2008. (ONS)
  13. The first computer programmer was a woman (1842: Ada Lovelace (1815–1852), analyst of Charles Babbage‘s analytical engine and described as the “first computer programmer”)
  14. The world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji, was published in Japan around A.D. 1000 by female author Murasaki Shikibu (random history)
  15. The UK has the lowest number of female engineers in Europe – only 9 per cent of UK engineering professionals are women compared to 18 per cent in Spain, 26 per cent in Sweden and 20 per cent in Italy. (EngineeringUK)
  16. The first country to grant women the right to vote in the modern era was New Zealand in 1893 (random history)
  17. 22 per cent of seats in the Commons are held by women, and the Home Secretary has to combine her demanding job with that of Minister for Women and Equalities (Janet Street Porter, Mail)
  18. 700,000 people will experience domestic violence in the UK, and 90% of them are white British females (Guardian)
  19. only 12% of the UK’s boardroom seats (as compared to Norway’s 32%) are occupied by women (Guardian)
  20. Gender-based violence causes more deaths and disabilities among women aged 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war (Guardian)
  21. Two-thirds of children denied school are girls, 64% of the world’s illiterate adults are women, 41m girls are still denied a primary education (Guardian)
  22. 75% of civilians killed in war are women and children, causing Major-General Patrick Cammaert, the former UN peacekeeping commander in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to declare in 2008: “It is now more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in modern conflict.” (Guardian)
  23. Headhunters could lose business if they fail to sign up to a code of conduct aimed at raising the number of women on company boards.  (FT)

And finally, a couple of stats from my own industry (public relations):

24. Men are almost twice as likely to be earning a salary in excess of £50,000 than women in the PR industry ( PR Week)

25. 70% of people in PR are women (2006), yet of PR Week’s ‘Top 25 PR personalities’ only five of the 25 were women and of the 2010 PowerBook of 100 top PR people, only 24 were women

Cross posted with my work blog