The Predominance of Women in Public Relations: Realizing Feminist Values, Societal Influences, and Media Portrayal
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After World War II, American society, experienced a great deal of job market expansions. For the public relations industry this expansion brought an increased need for specialization, which in turn created a technical and managerial divide within the industry. With many new jobs and niche markets being introduced, the profession began to attract women. In 1950 the percentage of women working in PR was 10 percent (Reskin, Roos 1990) since then the percentage has grown to 63 percent in 2015 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). With these percentages continuing to grow, the predominance of women in public relations has surfaced a valid research question: What has sustained this trend of women in PR for over 50 years? This thesis examines how societal influences, such as gender roles that render women as better communicators, began this trend and have continued to reinforce it. This study will also discuss how media has engraved misconceptions of what public relations is along with misrepresentations of the type of people that work in the industry and how these misconceptions and misrepresentations have progressed this trend for invalid reasons. In conclusion, this thesis will hypothesize how the realization of feminist values in public relations can potentially disseminate stereotypes and misconceptions that are encouraging this trend for the wrong reasons and how they can highlight the truth behind the benefits that women in PR are creating. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women currently make up 63% of public relations specialists and 59% of public relations managers in the United States, making public relations one of the most female-driven professions in the country. With 90% of undergraduate public relations students being female, the trend is only gaining momentum. As public relations becomes increasingly recognized as a pertinent managerial function, it is only fair that the abundance of women in PR is recognized for the positive influence they’ve had and continue to have on the industry.