A student perspective on the PR gender pay gap

As I’m nearing the end of my time studying, and looking into full time work, I’m becoming increasingly aware of the gender balance in professional PR teams. Currently working freelance for a range of companies, in two of my clients I have female managers, and the other three are male. When learning about company structure at university we can see a trend in senior managers being male, and underneath is a large network of ‘supporting’ females. For example, from a CIPR survey of those PR practitioners who earn £150,000 or greater, two-thirds are men.

Before CIPR had published results from the CIPR State Profession Survey, the gender gap was an issue I hadn’t personally addressed and the fact that I may enter a company male dominated does not put me off. Why, should it? Even though statistically public relations is a female-dominated profession, “with up to 70% of the professional numerically feminised in some European countries.” As long as my manager has an understanding of ‘me’ and my position is relevant to my qualifications, the balance of genders in the company could be irrelevant.

Bizarrely, during my time studying PR and Media at Sheffield Hallam the majority of the course are female. Supported by a CIPR study showing “women dominating in education, up to 90% of female PR undergraduate students.” But it seems that women overall are not  leading in the boardroom and senior positions. It makes me question if there is a missing area in the system where men seem to ‘overtake’ women, when climbing the ladder in terms of seniority. Although, with a new generation of PR professionals coming out of universities, this balance could soon change and see a range of men and women in senior roles.

A further issue that I have yet to directly address is the pay gap in terms of gender. Personally I haven’t experienced this, but it is an issue that CIPR have raised recently. This is in relation to the results from the CIPR State of the Profession Survey published in February 2014, “revealed an average pay gap of over £12,000 in favour of men, and the fact that from Account Manager/Press Officer level and above, men, on average, are being paid more than women when performing the same roles.” This needs to be balanced, it doesn’t matter what race or gender you are, pay should be equal and only rely on the role and work itself.

Overall, the gender balance has not put me off entering the industry, if anything it has given me drive to achieve and aim to be in a top senior position in my career. There will be many obstacles in succeeding in PR, and if my gender is one of these to overcome then so be it.

PR freelancer and third year PR and Media undergraduate at Sheffield Hallam University. http://uk.linkedin.com/in/rosiesoapstar/

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