Why are there so few men in PR?

This PR executive offers four theories as to why fewer men work in public relations than women.

I haven’t worked on the client/agency side of PR now for almost four years. But when I did, I was typically one of a handful, and in a few cases, the only guy on my PR team.

I’m hardly alone. According to studies, nearly 85 percent of our industry is comprised of women. And among PRSA members, 73 percent are female.

Women will be quick to argue that men hold many leadership positions in PR, so the fact that they dominate in terms of sheer numbers means nothing.

However, when I look around the agencies here in the Twin Cities and elsewhere, I simply don’t see that. There are a number of great agency and corporate women PR leaders.

I’m not here to debate that topic, but I do wonder why so few men go into PR at an early age.

Here are a few theories:

There’s more money in other professions.

Unlike many women (sorry, blanket statement), men are driven by money and power. And PR simply doesn’t provide that like other industries do. I’m thinking of professional services like accounting and legal, and the medical profession. Men simply follow the money.

It’s not a “manly” profession.

Guys see how PR is portrayed in the media. They watch movies that show women working in PR. It has a reputation now as an industry that’s mostly made up of women. Over time, that has a tendency to feed itself. I think there’s a certain stigma attached to PR, and that drives men away.

They don’t understand PR.

PR isn’t one of those professions everyone understands. That’s a big deal when you’re choosing a major. Accounting, law, engineering, and financial services are industries that, on the surface, are easier to understand. Therefore, more men seek them out.

There’s a generational issue at play.

Sons grow up watching their fathers. Many fathers work in industries like finance, engineering, construction and the like. Those sons grow up watching their fathers and emulate them. In turn, they end up going into those same professions. How many 50-year-olds do you know who have daughters in PR? I know a number—mostly moms and daughters. Case in point.

What do you think? Why do so few men go into PR today?

Arik Hanson, APR, is the principal of ACH Communications, a digital communications consultancy. A version of this article first appeared on his blog, Communications Conversations.

Topics: PR


One Response to “Why are there so few men in PR?”

    Jim Schwartz says:

    The bias against white men in corporate communications is astounding but not often discussed. There is incredible pressure placed by HR and Legal to appoint women to high level roles, and there aren’t many competing for roles in line management positions. As a result, the staff roles in HR, Legal, Communications get tabbed for women, despite what is often a more skilled, educated, experienced man competing for the same role.

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