Women in PR launches '45 Over 45' search as ageism problem exposed

More than one in three women working in UK comms has experienced ageism. That's according to new data commissioned by Women in PR (WIPR) as it launches a competition to recognise 45 outstanding female PR professionals aged over 45.

Credit: Ezra Bailey via Getty Images
Credit: Ezra Bailey via Getty Images

The research found more than half of women under 50 admit they didn't see a future in the part of the industry they worked in.

The data, from Opinium and based on responses from 218 women working in PR, found just over one quarter (26 per cent) of the youngest group polled (18-34) expect to leave the industry altogether.

Limited career opportunities to progress (42 per cent) and a lack of visibility of women aged over 50 in inspirational senior leadership roles (44 per cent) were the biggest causes, alongside the need for better work/life balance.

From today, PR professionals aged over 45 can nominate themselves, or be nominated, for inclusion in the 45 Over 45 list. Nominations close at 11pm on Sunday 12 December.

Kate Clark, WIPR Committee member and director of KCPR, said the Opinium research highlights the "limited opportunities for women as they get into mid-life".

"There is a lack of vision amongst employers to recognise the value of experience gained over the years - and then older women also seem to lose confidence after a certain age. The result is a terrible loss of talent - plus a missed opportunity to show younger women in our industry that PR is a career for life.

“It is recognised that the pandemic has adversely affected women broadly - and it seems that when it comes to older women in the comms workplace this is evermore true. So it is really important for Women in PR to highlight and celebrate the outstanding older women within our industry.”

Clark is among the judges for 45 Over 45, alongside Tara Macleod, founder director of Age Remade; Lucy Cairncross, UK executive director of global recruitment firm VMA; Lornette Harley of The Unmistakables and a PRWeek UK 30 Under 30 member; and Hearst UK PR and comms director Effie Kanyua. The list will be unveiled in February 2022.

PRWeek partners with WIPR on the Mentoring Programme to encourage female industry leaders of the future.

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