Pretty in Public Relations: The Women’s Impact on the Industry

She rises at 6 a.m., waking up to a busy schedule ahead. After a calming shower and curling of the hair, she slips on the black heels and makes her way to the mirror. Putting on the finish touch of rose lipstick, she feels confident the day will be successful. Pouring her coffee into the mug, she heads out the door to begin another job in the Public Relations world. Over half of PR professionals may do similar task like this every morning, because they are the women, females who dominate in the field.

Public Relations is a field where salaries can vary depending on multiple factors. These can include location/demographics, the agency, and overall experience in the profession. However, another factor of your salary can be your gender- most commonly known as the wage gap. The journal, “Gender Discrepancies in a Gendered Profession: A Developing Theory for Public Relations,” researched the field of PR and the many influences that gender have on the industry. The journal by Linda Aldoory and Elizabeth Toth says that the men’s overall average salary in PR was $73,700 and the women’s was a mere $56,000 (Aldoory & Toth, 2009).

If I hear the phrase, “Women only make 77 cents to every dollar earned by men,” one more time, I’m going to hurl. This “wage gap” definition gives a mere assumption that women cannot hold hierarchy positions like men- and they only belong in certain industries. In the profession of Public Relations, women make up the largest number of employees. Another study by Aldoory and Toth states that,”…women compromise 70% of the jobs in public relations today, they do not comprise this percentage of the higher positions in public relations.” It continues to say, “Wootton’s (1997) analysis indicated that in 1995, 35.7% of managers in marketing, advertising, and public relations were women. Of the public relations specialist cited from U.S. Census date in 1995, 59.7% were women” (Aldoory & Toth, 2009).

Stated by Forbes contributor Ken Makovsky, in the article “Women in Leadership in PR”, Syracuse University did a study on gender how women dominate the PR field. The universities research indicated that 85% of women make up the industry, however, 80% of the leadership roles are secured by men (Makovsky, 2013). It is shocking to see the advancement of women in the PR field, but it still ponders by mind why they cannot advance to the higher positions as men succeed to do.

It can be summed up by the glass ceiling effect; which can be defined as the invisible barrier that women face when trying to be promoted. Makovsky also stated in the article that in 2010, 73% of the 21,000 members of PRSA were female, according to studies by (Makovsky, 2013). If all these statics and research shows that women are influencing the PR world, then why is it so impossible for them to become leaders?

What is a leader? Someone with skills and assets that provide strengths and promote positive actions. The stereotypes of women include being passive, non-aggressive, and inferior to men- which seems to dismiss the vision of women being a leader. Ragan’s PR Daily tried to break these stereotypes by posting the article written by Christine Pietryla, “5 reasons women are effective PR leaders.” Pietryla said the five reasons women are leaders are because they are active listeners, tend to be more social, plugged with current events, effective in group settings, and the “big picture” is more in-focus for women leaders (Pietryla, 2013). With these things in mind- I still continue to wonder by women cannot advance to higher positions. It is a blur that may never be answered, but with the research and facts above, it is clear that women have what it takes to proceed these hierarchy roles in PR.

There is no conclusion and reasoning for this dilemma women are facing in the PR world. We can blame in of the wage gap, glass ceiling, or whatever other bull we cram into our minds. However, the fact of the matter is that women are strong, powerful, and possess the qualities to be leaders in the PR industry. Although it may take some time, women will soon become less than “pretty in public relations” and transform into “powerful in public relations.”


Aldoory, L & Toth, E. (2009, November 19). Gender Discrepancies in a Gendered Profession: A Developing Theory for Public Relations. Journal of Public Relations Research. Volume 14, Issue 2, 2002. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from

Makovsky, K. (2013, February 23). Women in Leadership in PR. Retrieved November 3, 2015, from

Pietryla, C. (2013, March 12). 5 reasons women are effective PR leaders. Retrieved November 3, 2015, from



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