Gender inequality in public relations

Carole Rankin

Early feminists have been fighting for women’s rights to education, voting, and employment, yet the struggle to break the glass ceiling and have equal pay is still a reality in Canada. It seems ludicrous that pay inequality would exist in a heavily female saturated environment such as the public relations industry. Beginning in the late 80’s, there has been a major shift in the male to female ratio in the field of public relations with women making up nearly 70 per cent of the members of the Canadian Public Relations Society. Looking at this statistic alone it would appear that females are dominating the industry, but when you dig a little deeper it becomes obvious that this gender dominance ends there.

According to PR Daily, men hold four out of five leadership communication positions and within those positions the salary gaps between genders is shocking enough to make men and women alike hit the streets in protest. An MSVU lead study last year found that the average salary for senior communicators was $105,000. Before breaking that intor gender, take a deep breath because you might pass out from rage induced shock. The average salary for senior male communicators was $127,000 and for females it was $95,500. Let that marinate for a minute. You hear a lot about gender gaps in industries that are referred to as a man’s game but if women aren’t getting ahead even in female dominated occupations, it’s worth investigating.

The PR industry isn’t the only mind-boggling example of women’s struggle to move up in a women’s world. At the Mount, the female student body nearly triples male peers. However, there has been a trend in the last four years where the Mount’s student union president has been male and in the past two years, there has been one single female in the 12 executive member positions.

The Mount is a university that advocates for equality with a rich history of championing the empowerment of women so how can this under representation in the Student Union Committee be explained? This isn’t an attack on men. I personally have a lot of respect for our current Student Union president. This is simply a numbers game, and the numbers don’t add up.

The fact that women have such a physical presence in public relations suggests that a difference can be made. In order for women to see economic justice in our lifetime, it must be fought for. Whether you are currently in the industry or aspire to be, know your worth and be educated on an appropriate target salary. Gender should not matter. Learn how to negotiate pay effectively and be prepared for rejection. You have to try; otherwise you’ll be watching your deserved money slip through your fingers into a man’s wallet. The American Association of University Women states that gender pay gaps have barely changed in over a decade and at this rate your great, great, great granddaughters might have a chance at fair pay. Are you willing to wait?