BY: VICTORIA DELLACAVA
Public relations remains one of the very few professions where women outnumber men. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 60 percent of public relations professionals. Related fields like journalism, advertising and marketing are not experiencing the same uneven gender divide. What makes this statistic even more alarming is that although there are much fewer men in the public relations field, they still make up the majority of upper-level management positions.
Why is this the case? Whether women are predisposed to the public relations field or have been socialized to believe so is a question that research cannot come up with a conclusive answer to this day. There is no doubt that this gender divide needs to be addressed in this field, along with the issue of the gender pay gap. I, however, also see the positive aspects of being in a female-dominated industry – the greatest being the abundance of female mentorship among public relations professionals and students.
I have yet to meet a public relations professional – whether at work, PRSSA meetings, the PRSSA-UD Mentor/Mentee program, networking events or PRSSA National Conference – that has not been willing to provide insight on how they have gotten to where they are or what they wish they had known as a student or younger professional.
Like most people I know in the field, I was drawn to the public relations field because of my love of writing, talking to people, creative thinking and not wanting to do the same thing every day. Skills that are associated with public relations professionals – writing, creativity, collaboration, people-pleasing and communication – are stereotypically female. While these traits are essential for any public relations professional, this list of traits is far from exhaustive. Public relations professionals also need to be decisive, strategic, analytical, strong leaders and predictive problem solvers.
The women that I have had the pleasure to meet and work with thus far in this field embody most, if not all, of these traits – and they are more than willing to lead the way for the next generation of public relations professionals to come.
My experience in PR thus far has shown me that PR women want to create an environment where women have the skills, knowledge and confidence to succeed. Whether you’re a women in STEM, PR or any other profession, having strong and successful women to look up to are imperative to the continued empowerment of women as a whole.
While professionals lending a hand to students is not exclusive to the public relations industry, both the quality and quantity of mentorship that I have experienced from professionals and peers in this industry never ceases to amaze me.
I love being in a field where I have a plethora of women to look up to. Whether they’re industry legends like Betsy Plank or Barbara Hunter or pop-culture icons like Samantha Jones (despite her inaccurate representation of all PR professionals) or Peggy Olson, these women all have something in common – they’re a force to be reckoned with.
The magnitude of female mentorship was not what initially drew me to the public relations field, but it is what has assured me that it is the profession I want to pursue – with lots of help from my fellow female PR professionals along the way.
Victoria is a New York-native senior interpersonal communication major with minors in public policy, leadership and advertising. She serves on the PRSSA-UD executive board as vice president of professional development, head of PRSSA-UD’s Outreach Committee and social media editor at The Review. To connect with her, follow her on twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn or meet her for coffee at Brew HaHa! (chances are she’s there right now).