I recently read a post by Rebecca Knight commending the fact that women dominate the public relations industry. Data from the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) shows that women are in managerial roles in more numbers than ever. However, PRDaily.com recently posted an article showing the increasing salary gap in PR between the genders. So what’s up with that?
From the outset, the gender-based gap in salary is not a phenomena that only occurs in public relations. According to the BBC, ” The gap between how much male and female managers are paid has widened by £500 to £10,546 in the past year, a study suggests.” This study was conducted in the U.K.
Unfortunately, the U.S. is not immune – women still face a huge entry-level salary gap in professional industries, such the medical field.
Though there are some factors that contribute to this, namely that women are the ones who bear children, and subsequently go on maternity leave, and juggle a flurry of tasks and responsibilities both at work and at home, I think this is still not an excuse for a female to earn less for the same type of work or amount of work or prestige of work that her male counter-parts perform! Period.
I find it disconcerting, and frankly, a bit disgusting to see so many women in PR, whether in managerial and executive roles at big corporation, agency or as solo practitioners and still not have the power earnings of a man!
It appears that women are to be well-suited for roles in public relations. PR is about reaching out, connecting, and giving “good face” to a product, service or organization. Communications and journalism are the typical college backgrounds for a job in public relations. In general, women are natural communicators. So it would see that, ideally, women would not only kick ass in PR, but should also garner and command high salaries!
The disparity is all the more head-shaking because more women than ever are earning higher educational degrees, running whole households (in this current economy), and are starting businesses. Woman are still climbing up the ladder, and are still experiencing a wage gap?
Though this is by no means a true fix, I think as women entrepreneurs, we can gain more control over our own businesses and create something worthwhile for ourselves. Just because we are in PR doesn’t mean we can’t (at certain times, toot our own horns).
1) Get more gutsy – Yeah, starting a business is already a risk. Get more gutsy. Play to win. Go for the big account. The big name. You can’t win if you don’t play. Entrepreneurs, Carol Roth and Ali Brown know what this is about. They have “played” with the big boys, and are winning. I want to emulate that.
2) Be strong (with heart) – Strength does not mean be like a man. Strength is yielding your power, your knowledge and expertise with class and control. Too often, women will emulate a man’s qualities, instead of tapping into her own fierceness. View yourself like a lioness protecting her cubs – in this case, your business and your expertise. Sometimes, clients have unrealistic PR “wants and expectations”. Not giving into things that will in the long run hurt your brand and image is being fierce without compromise.
3) Mentor one another - I am emphatic about this one. Solopreneurship, especially in PR can be a lonely job. And frankly, I don’t know anyone who can do it all, and do it all well. Cross-mentor each other, ladies! This does not mean giving away your programs for free. It’s being there for a fellow entrepreneur who has reached out to you, whether to answer a quick question or point her in the right direction. Some advice and insight should be free-of-charge – a helping hand gives back a thousand-fold.
4) Keep going for it! Tara Gentile has this quote, “Don’t be intimidated by those who seem to have it more together than you.” I love that quote! I have it on my wall next to my desk. Men are driven and have a tenacity that doesn’t let go until they get what they want. Ventures and businesses fail because it got too hard (they gave up) or too many mistakes were not correctly resolved (poor excuses). Press forward – even if you are just starting out and have NO clients, find creative and resourceful ways to get visibility.
Though data suggests that women in leadership have come a long way (and I’m grateful for that), reaching top-level goals still requires persistence and push-through. And as an old proverb states, “if they don’t receive your message, shake the dust off your feet and move on!”