Monday, April 2, 2007

Gender in PR (Rob's Questions Answered)

As mentioned, Rob posted some good questions regarding the matter of the number of women in PR. Several of his points lead to much larger issues of PR (and business) as a whole, which I addressed here. These are the questions left unaddressed in that post.

Rob wrote: "Why do you think old white PR men are in the C-suite more than women? Given the high turnover rate of PR jobs, do you think women really want PR to be their long-term profession?"

Simply put, men still rule the world. Men are not there because they wish to be there more long-term than women do; men are just in more places of power period.

Rob said: "Gender dominance in the field of strategic communication is not good for either side, whether it's male or female. Your point about women being better communicators by nature is not really true to strategic communication. PR pros are trying to win clients by preserving their interests and persuading important groups more than they are trying to communicate natural human needs."

My position, firmly, is that marketing, PR or "strategic communication" should be about natural human needs. If your product, service isn't based on a need, that's when folks resort to "spin," "lies," and the other derogatory things folks bad-mouth the profession for ~ simply because the 'thing' isn't needed at all. If you feel that the duties require more persuasion, like strong-armed talk, than you are missing the concept of value driven business.

Also, your tone indicates that you believe men are better persuaders than women. This is not the case. As a group who exists beneath another group, we know more about how you powerful males tick than men do. We have to because our survival depends upon it. While clearly we are not slaves to master, we are to seek permission, not assume we have the power ourselves, and face others issues of equality. Uppity women get slapped, not (always) physically, and so we need to know what might cause that slap, that consequence. As a result, we women know you men and your motivations very well.

Do I think any field dominated by one group or another is 'best?' No. At least not entirely. But I also do not categorically say it is the 'worst' thing either. It depends upon the group, it's skill set and the duties to be performed. Women are much more effective, eager and willing communicators. These are assets. And to be sure, in a profession run by (and run under) men (or male dominated groups), business could stand not only our natural assets but speak to, finally, a world of female consumers ~ long neglected (or pandered to).

Rob questions why women would "flock" to PR given "such tumultuous waters." Along with all of the above I ask, "But really, aren't women also consumers?" As consumers of products, of media; and also fed corporate philosophies. They are tired of the way things are and want to be involved in change. This culture shift is a human response and women are humans first.

Also women are used to cleaning up the messes of men. At least if we get in and clean up this marketing/business mess, if we are the majority, we have a much better means to keep it clean. Will we do it? That remains to be seen... I sure hope so. But much of this possibility rests upon the fact that CEOs and others, who are a largely male population, must agree to the clean-up and the changes in more than token ways.

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