EDITORIAL: Be proud! PR is new bastion of equality

The issue of gender-based discrimination in PR has been a hot topic

for 25 years, and even as women become ever-more dominant in the

profession and achieve ever-greater stature, it has remained a divisive

and time-consuming issue.

But it's time to challenge the assumption (and the statistics) which

suggest that sex discrimination is still rife, because it's increasingly

outdated and statistically flawed.

Let's take pay. With a dollars 20,000 discrepancy between the average

salary of a man and a woman (Source: PRWeek/Text 100 Salary Survey

2001), you can see why it's an emotive issue. But analysis of the

numbers (see opposite page) shows that gender has a negligible impact on

this discrepancy.

Another rising concern is that as women come to dominate the industry,

PR will be regarded as 'women's work,' and will therefore become a

ghetto of low pay. Yet this flies in the face of what's happening in the

real world. The incredible pay raises of the last three years (including

17% in 2000) has been brought about because the demand for PR has never

been higher (agencies have grown by 100% in the last five years).

And finally, there's the growing myth of the glass ceiling. The

burgeoning PR industry has given the new generation of female PR

managers unparalleled opportunity for advancement.

The agency side has shown the way, with 37 of the top 100 agencies run

by female CEOs. With several senior-level women now emerging within the

top firms, it can only be a short time before a major multinational is

run by a female CEO. On the corporate side, too, women hold the top PR

position at places like GE, Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, Barnes & Noble

and Starbucks, among others. And in non-profits, women dominate.

Of course, there are pockets of sex discrimination. A generation of

ingrained habits cannot be replaced overnight. But isn't it time we

celebrated the empowerment of women that PR has provided? It's time to

stop whining and enjoy this industry for a new bastion of equality.

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