By Tiffany Miller, Account Director, R&J Public Relations
The statistics don’t lie. Women dominate the world of PR.
In a recent article for The Atlantic, Olga Khazan examines “Why are there are so many women in Public Relations?” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 63% of publicists in America and 59 percent of all publicity managers. Khazan also takes a look at why women choose public relations over journalism, an industry that is roughly evenly split with 51 percent of women making up the news world. Here’s a look at what Khazan uncovered through her research, and after speaking with several women in the industry.
Despite what your husband, boyfriend, or partner thinks, if you are in PR it’s because you’re rational. Women choose PR over journalism or other fields because it’s a growing field with a variety of opportunities making it a rational career choice.
“Jobs for public relations specialists are growing at 12 percent a year—about the same rate at which jobs for reporter are shrinking each year. PR people now outnumber journalists three to one.”
Women are preparing more for careers in communications earlier in their college careers compared to their male counterparts.
“In an analysis of the American Community Survey, Philip N. Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland College Park, found that 47 percent of women and 35 percent of men who are public relations specialists or managers majored in communications, journalism, English, advertising/PR, business, and mass media—all majors that would lead naturally to a PR career”
As a journalist Khazan notes that the overwhelming majority of the PR pitches in her inbox are from women noting that women tend to be drawn to PR because of its collaborative and social aspects.
“Studies have shown that women tend to collaborate more and prefer to work on teams, whereas men usually do better in competitive environments and prefer to fly solo.
‘Having your hands in a lot of different pots is a big part of being in an agency. That appeals to a woman’s ability more so than men. Men tend to be more singularly focused, said Jennifer Hellickson, director of marketing at SweatGuru in Portland, Oregon.”
Many women choose PR over journalism because it seemed inherently less risky and less deadline driven. The truth is that PR, like any industry, comes with own set of unique opportunities and challenges. I’m sure if you spoke to any PR professional, male or female, they would tell you that the demands can be intense. Several women who Khazan spoke with cited the fact that their schedules were unpredictable and clients seemed impossible to please.
“’It’s a bit of a thankless endeavor—when PR is good, everyone is off and planning for the next thing; but when PR is bad, it’s all anyone can talk about,’ Hellickson said.”
I’m part of the wave of women who planned to enter the field of public relations by majoring in communication with a concentration in PR and Journalism in college. When it came time to choose between PR and Journalism, I took the PR track not because I was a woman, or didn’t like to take risks. I chose PR since it better suited my individual strengths but still challenged me. I never looked back on that decision, and a decade later I’m continuing to build a successful career in public relations.
You can read Khazan’s full story here: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/08/why-are-there-so-many-women-in-pr/375693/2/