Do Women Outnumber Men in…?

Do women outnumber men in PR? That’s the question that came to mind last week after an event in Portland.

Last week I attended a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Portland Metro Chapter New Professionals event at Maxwell PR; a boutique PR agency that I worked with while I was with Travel Salem. I picked the perfect night (sarcastically) to drive up to Portland as it was cold, dark and rainy. Fittingly, I rocked out to Glee’s Umbrella/Singing in the Rain mashup almost the entire time in the car.

Because the traffic was so ugly due to the weather, I showed up about 15 minutes late. Once I arrived, I found a seat and got settled. Then it hit me…I was surrounded by women. Besides the initial two men who represented Maxwell PR and the Portland Metro Chapter of PRSA, I realized that I was the only man in the room. “Interesting,” I thought.

When I got back to Salem, I tweeted:

Back in #SalemOR after @newprosprsa mtg. Felt out of place. Only guy (beside organizers). PR industry definitely female dominated!

Julie Ma, director-at-large for the Portland Chapter New Professionals and the person responsible for the @newprosprsa Twitter account, replied:

No! There’s plenty of men in PR – there just HAPPENED to be many ladies tonight! @awtham

It was nice to meet Julie at the event. It’s always nice to meet people in person when your first interaction with them is through Twitter. It was like a mini tweet-up! But seriously, that meeting got me thinking: Do women really outnumber men in the public relations industry? And if so, why?

A little research helped me answer the first question. According to the national PRSA, nearly 85 percent of PR practitioners are women. More so, 73 percent of PRSA’s 21,000 members are women! It’s also interesting to note that even though women outnumber men, it is their male counterparts who earn more. This can be an entire blog entry on its own, so I’ll save this for later.

Why do women outnumber men in the industry? Reflecting back to my communication and PR courses in college, I do notice that there were more gals than guys. I use to think it was just because in general women are outnumbering men in higher education. While that’s true, I’m now thinking otherwise.

I came across a blog titled “The New Majority in PR: Women.” Even though the blog hasn’t been updated in nearly five years and is limited in content (probably a school project), there were some interesting post. Another blog I came across is titled “Inside Public Relations” — a more recent blog highlighting research done by a student pursuing a Masters in Public Relations. Some interesting points I came across:

  • Women are better…or more natural, communicators.
  • Women are better at multi-tasking and are more organized than men.
  • PR is a “soft” career suited for women. Other examples of soft careers are nursing and teaching.
  • Women have greater imagination and intuition.
  • Women are better at relationship building and are more interested in interactive dialogue.

There seems to be a trend here: Of all the skills valued in the PR industry, according to those sources women are just flat out better than men. However, each one of those points can be argued. But for the sake of the length of this post, let’s take those points as is. Now is it fair to say that women are better communicators than men? Yes and no. I know a lot of men who are great communicators in both an interpersonal and large group setting. However, as much as I hate to say, there are studies and academic journals/books written that says physiologically, women are better communicators than men.

Women are better communicators — better suited for the job — so is that the reason why there are substantially more women than men in the PR industry? Probably not, but to be honest I really don’t know. That are many reasons that factor into ones choosing of a career. Men outnumber women in many engineering jobs. Is it because men better at math and science? I know women who can match — even exceed — math/science wits with the best of them!

It’s difficult to pinpoint a reason why women outnumber men (or vice-versa) in any industry. The arguments are there — some fact, some opinion — but in most cases you just can’t say one gender is better — thus outnumbering its counterpart — in an industry.

If you’re in PR, chances are you’re going to be surrounded by women. Heck, I agree with a lot of things I’ve read and heard regarding women such as the points made above. However, men also bring a lot to the table:

  • We’re naturally more competitive. This can be viewed as a negative, but it really depends on how you channel that competitiveness for the team.
  • We’re good at embracing change. Change is imminent, it’s unavoidable. When you can quickly adjust and begin strategizing your next steps, that’s a plus in my book.
  • We’re physically stronger. Hey, you may be laughing but that comes in handy when you need to roll up your sleeves (which happens often) for event setup, hauling boxes of media kits, etc.

Sorry, I just had to throw in some positives for us guys! 🙂

It’s true. Women (greatly) outnumber men in PR. What are your thoughts? Do you see this as a trend that will continue? What are the reasons for choosing your current career? Love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Flickr, Crashmaster007.

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