- Shreya Rajagopalan
The Evolution of Women In Public Relations
The evolution of women in PR illustrates how throughout industrialization history, women have fought to go from demure homemakers to voting individuals, working individuals, and eventually top management leaders in business, the PR industry, and beyond. This journey has resulted in Public Relations becoming a woman-inclusive industry and a woman-dominated industry.
Genesis: The World PR Report states that women constitute 60-85% of all PR jobs globally. The history behind this statistic involves women’s fight against various social objections that questioned their capabilities as individuals. Their novelty in the corporate world required them to prove themselves at every step.
The genesis of women fighting to work started literally from the ground up, i.e., it was socially acceptable for women in the workforce to only be in small secretarial and clerical roles in predominantly male environments. Soon, following the Second World War in western countries and Post-Liberalisation in India, education in PR started gaining scope, which further pushed the possibility of women advancing in PR jobs and advancing the industry itself.
Action: Apart from minimal educational avenues, what held women back from soaring in their PR careers was the stigma around them being working women. Women combatted this stigma by taking advantage of what PR as an industry entailed and commonly associated stereotypes.
PR is a people's industry. It is all about communication and favorable human connections to ensure a positive discourse of your organization in the media. This exact communication component required in PR is what women capitalized on. Women were stereotyped as too emotional, weak, and not assertive enough to take up more demanding career roles. They used these stereotypes to excel like no other in establishing cordial and professional relationships with a touch of personalization. Their less aggressive and more personable approach is now coined as the term ‘Hospitality Relations’ in the PR landscape.
Ascension: Women soared in the PR industry, firstly due to their smart use of existing gaps and opportunities and, more importantly, their own savvy and intellect. Doris Fleischman and Lorena Hickock are examples of women in history who sustained as workers and revolutionized the PR industry as we know it today.
Women advance as the world advances. PR as an industry is now highly dependent and driven by the virtual world; Women in PR have adapted to this by becoming more and more tech-savvy and informed about relevant changes in the industry.
Shwetha Poojari, appointed as the new Public Relations Head at Disney+ Hotstar, and Michelle Kumar, selected as the Vice President of Public Relations and Corporate Communications at Swiggy in recent news; along with Archana Jain, MD of PR Pundit and Valerie Pinto, CEO of Weber Shandwick India, are examples of women in India progressing in the PR arena.
What does the evolution of women imply for industries in the present day?
What we can infer from the evolution of women in PR is how the inclusion of people, when done right, can revolutionize an industry in ways never thought of before. Women have and continue to occupy a significant part of groups that need more representation in the business arena. The successful uplifting of this one group has single-handedly transformed the PR industry into what it is today. It has further proved to act as concrete evidence for a business's fruitful outcomes through a strategic yet bold step against traditional norms.
For more thoughts on the importance of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belongingness in business and their role in combatting current traditional norms; Please stay tuned!