Monday, August 20, 2007

Women in PR

The MiBiz special section "West Michigan Businesswomen" profiles 21 women who are successful in the world of business. Six of them (close to one-third for you liberal arts majors) are in the advertising and PR business.

I have mixed emotions about this.

On the one hand, I know most of these young women and think they are getting well-deserved recognition. Also, it's reassuring to see that those in the Ad/PR field are considered worthy of highlighting as business leaders along with CEOs and attorneys etc. PR is getting a seat at the management table, as people often fret about at conferences and in the trade publications.

However, I worry a little bit that some might take the wrong message from this: namely, that PR is "women's work." This has been the case in some other countries (eg India) where PR is listed along with teaching and nursing as careers suitable for the fair gender.

You scan my PR classes at GVSU and across the countrry--according to faculty colleagues I've spoken to from a half dozen states--and the testosterone has decreased more rapidly than Great Lakes water levels. I'm talking maybe five men in a class of 30. Some of this is due to the fact that more women than men go to college period. But there is a concern that PR is a field perceived as 'feminine.'

What does that say for us men in PR? It's not as bad as having a name like Gay Focker and being a male nurse (for those of you with no social life, this was a movie reference). But, as our still emerging and evolving field advances, we want to be taken seriously as a profession, regardless of the gender of the practitioner.

So, kudos to the half dozen women recognized in MiBiz. To me they are more than successful businesswomen. They are "enhancing the profession" on behalf of all of us.

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