Strange Disparity in PR Workforce

By: Donald Smith

In my public relations communication class this week my professor told the class there are scientific studies showing no one is great at multitasking. However, it is proven women are slightly better than men at multitasking. British Broadcasting Corporation released a study in 2013 that found men responded 77 percent slower when given several tasks in rapid succession while women responded 69 percent slower (Morgan, 2013) . So, I started wondering if men were at a disadvantage in the public relations field.

“Sad Woman,” by George Hodan

I wondered this because multitasking is a skill listed as a necessity in the public relations field. And if not a skill it would be listed as a quality, ability, trait and etc. So, if men lacked this skill then it would mean that women would be leading most, if not all, PR agencies. However, this is not the case.

Aarti Shah from Holmes Report wrote an article on this issue. In the article she reports 70 percent of the PR workforce is comprised of women, but they hold only 30 percent of company leadership positions (Shah, 2015). This means men hold 70 percent of company leadership positions while comprising 30 percent of the PR workforce.

This disparity between the majority of the workforce being the minority of the leadership brings forth the question, “Is there sexism in the PR agency?” Sexism is the unfair treatment or discrimination toward someone based on their sex. It could be the answer why men, who struggle more at multitasking, are leading a field, in which they have the disadvantage. Shah goes on to give examples of sexism in her article. One example was Ellen Pao’s lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for discriminating and retaliating against her. She had complained to the company they were using different standards to judge women and men up for promotions. After her complaints she was let go by the company. The lawsuit started the discussion of gender imbalance.

Hopefully as more diversity integrates into the workforce we will see the disparity diminish, and create an equal opportunity workplace with no discrimination.

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