Women, inequality and public relations

Inequality for women is everywhere. It makes me so angry, it always has done and always will.

Although women dominate the PR world, the top of the top is still a male stronghold.

I’ve been looking at some of the shocking statistics and stories about inequality in relation to women and women in PR.

Public relations

According to an article on QuartzDepending on who you ask, women hold anywhere from 61% to 85% of all PR jobs, and 59% of all PR managers are female. And yet, according to the 2014 World PR Report, only 30% of all global PR agencies are run by women.”

This article was written on the 6 March 2016 by written by Jennifer Risi Head of Media Relations, North America at Ogilvy Public Relations and I don’t feel much has changed since these 2014 statistic were published.

Women deserve better. Women in PR deserve better. PR graduates deserve better. We all deserve better. The glass ceiling needs shattering properly.

Equal pay and equal consideration for all industries. It should always come down to who is the best person for the job. Gender and age should have nothing to do with it. But, unfortunately this is not the world we currently live in, gender still has a big impact.

Equal Pay Day

It was two recent BBC news articles that have flared up my anger on this topic again.
The first was about Equal Pay Day released in November, it told women that effectively they are working the rest of the year for free compared to our male counterparts. It’s a fantastic news story but, it left me absolutely livid.
The article states that the Fawcett Society says “The pay of younger women in particular is falling behind that of men, claiming the drive to equalise pay is going backwards and will now take 100 years to close. The pay gap for women in their 20s has grown from 1.1% in 2011 to 5.5% this year.”
This can mean that women start on £2,000-£3,000 less than males starting in the same roles. Did we not go to University? Slave away in internships (another argument altogether)? Female graduates deserve better, they deserve equality.
These sort of facts remind me of a funny scene from a film I love. Stay with me here. The Holiday, the festive guilty pleasure film with Jude Law, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, has a scene which makes me laugh every time.
At the beginning of the film Cameron Diaz who plays a high-flying film advert editor is discussing with her assistant the merits of taking a break from her job, which demands a lot from her as a woman in the film industry. I am aware the film is not real but, it is a funny little aside that helps me make my point.
It goes a little something like this…

Amanda: Did you read that article in the New York Times last Sunday? Severe stress makes women age prematurely because stress causes the DNA in our cells to shrink until they can no longer replicate. So when we’re stressed we look haggard. This is just women not men.

Ben: Sorry.

Amanda: And remember when they used to say that single women over the age of 35 were more likely to get killed by a terrorist than to get married? Okay, that was horrible but now our generation is also not getting married and, bonus!, real terrorists actually became part of our lives. So the stress of it all shows up on our faces making us look haggard!

This is a REAL statistic, released by Newsweek magazine over thirty years ago. It is not just a line in a film.
Why is it that silly stats like this seem to never come out about men? We’re less likely to marry, to earn more, to be leaders, to earn an equal starting salary, the list goes on.
Women are frequently fighting to be considered equal in all respects. Aren’t women battling enough issues?
Throughout history women are integral to the survival and success of the human race. They have been food gatherers, the powerhouses of the home, mothers, an integral part of the war effort, sovereigns, leaders and politicians. Why on earth are they considered to warrant less pay and consideration than men in 2017?! It’s madness.
Equal pay shouldn’t be an issue, but the average difference between women and men’s wages is 18.4% in the UK.

Degrees, employment and negotiation

The second BBC article that ticked me off talked about the degrees to make you rich. And, awkwardly the ones to avoid if you’re looking to earn mega bucks. It really angered me. Degrees to make you rich? What about job enjoyment, satisfaction and skills?
I understand money is important but, not as important as your happiness. As long as you’ve got enough for a roof over your head, food, water and clothes, yes that’s a quick nod to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, then the rest is just an added bonus really.
I wonder what the discrepancy is for females across all of the industries listed. It’s a worrying thought.
PR Couture has a piece detailing the discrepancies in PR for the American industry called ‘Let’s talk about the gender wage gap in public relations’.  The best part of the article is at the very end and is the reason why it was put together.
“Armed with insight from this report we can all have a better sense of the actual silent disparity within our field, and powerful data to help women appropriately negotiate equal pay.” Said .

Hope

There is plenty of hope, if you know where to look. The CIPR recently announced it’s board for 2018 and it’s showing some strong female leadership in the mix. As one of the two main chartered institutes for Public Relations in the UK its good to see that women are being reflected at the top. Not just because they are women but because they’re shit hot at what they do. Even the main role of President is going to Sarah Hall, a fantastically talented PR practitioner! Ella Minty will be supporting her as an elected member too.

Balance

I feel we need more women in roles like this to stop men from dominating the top roles in organisations. It really should be based on talent and talent alone and reflect the 60:40 female to male ration in the PR industry.

#MeToo

Inequality for women obviously extends far greater than pay and employment. Gender inequality starts with the general treatment of woman. This year #MeToo has highlighted just how bad the situation is. It’s success at drawing attention to this difficult topic and throwing light on the darkest behaviours of our society has been revealing to say the least.
 
The Guardian’s G2 supplement on 31 October, questioned whether the #MeToo is the end of the patriarchy? Do we have to conquer other battles across the board first to get society to change? I think we do. It requires a total change in thinking (for some!) and a freedom to speak out to make gender equality the status quo not the exception. It requires a social awakening and education to stop history from repeating itself.
Perhaps we’ll see more change as 2018 hits its stride? The effects of #MeToo are still being seen in many industries. The severity of such an issue that affects so many can’t help but make people stop and think about appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.
Education, of course, is key. Teaching equality and respect from an early age and re-educating over time will stamp out this deeply ingrained behaviour.
Hope also comes in men self identifying. Morgan Spurlock’s ‘I am part of the problem’ tweet was a bold move at calling himself out. I doubt this is little more than his clever PR team getting out ahead of the backlash that inevitably was going to happen but, it is a start and it may get other men to think about their actions.
The end of patriarchy would hopefully balance the scales. But, patriarchy is deeply rooted and we’re going to have to dig out the roots that have taken a strangle hold on our society.

The journey

Fighting for equality is a journey that women have been on for quite some time. From women suffragettes campaigning for the vote to modern day campaigns like #equalpayday and the sharing of abuse through #MeToo women are still fighting for gender equality in all respects. We need more to change.
Nothing I’ve written is new but it is a reminder of where we currently are with gender equality. It’s in women’s jobs, pay and treatment – it’s literally in every aspect of our lives.
I’m not ever going to stop being angered by gender inequality. The glass ceiling needs to come down. This rant is a reminder of the journey women are on. It’s a call to action to keep fighting to make things fairer so the generations that follow us don’t have to put up with the same treatment.
I’d love to know your thoughts on all aspects of women’s equality, your stories, views and ideas of how we can all move forward. Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.

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