Women in Public Relations in Europe:
From Where to Where
(page latest update: September 2015)
Women in public relations is a topic that has been studied mainly by American scholars. For example, the Velvet Ghetto study (1985) demonstrated that women are more likely to perceive themselves as filling a technical role, as being paid less than men even when other variables are controlled, and that women’s dominance in a profession has consequences (generally negative) upon the profession. Further studies have found that these perceptions still hold true for women working in the public relations field, whether as practitioners or academics.
The proposed project aims to explore women in public relations in the European context. In the study the project team will investigate:
- The scale of women in the profession – demographic data
- Why women enter the public relations field and their expectations
- The challenges and opportunities for women
- Career development and occupational levels achieved
- How they view the future of public relations as a career
In many countries, the majority of people working in the public relations field are women. Recent research in the UK found that 64% of an estimated 61,600 practitioners are female. However, this PR Census by PR Week (15/7/2011) found that this dominance does not occur at board director or partner level. Females also dominate academic programs, both as students and lecturers, indicating that women will be the majority in the field for some time to come.
This project will initiate a discussion about many aspects of women working in public relations across Europe and will help to inform the study of this topic in the global context.
Goals of the project
Following on from the work of the project in previous years, we believe that a strong focus moving forward is the development of an annotated bibliography about gender in PR, primarily in a European context. This digital resource would be of use to anyone interested in researching this topic and would pull together relevant research and writings from a number of sources.
Project team members
- Liz Bridgen, Shieffeld Hallam univeristy, United Kingdom
- Alexandra Craciun, University of Bucharest, Romania
- Melike Aktas Yamanoglu, Universsity of Ankara, Turkey
- Dr. Pelin Hurmeric, Yeditepe University, Turkey
- Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jamilah Hj. Ahmad, University Sains Malaysia, Malysia
Results until now
Members have expressed support for the concept and a template for materials is being developed.
Milestones for the next six months
Completion and distribution of template. Establishing a digital location for uploading of material.
Can EUPRERA members still join the project?
Additional team members are welcome. Anyone interested will be able to submit content for the annotated bibliography. The team will be responsible for checking submissions and coordinating the content of the bibliography in its final form.
THE PREVIOUS VERSION OF THIS PROJECT (until 2014)
Goals of the project
- To develop a profile of women working in the public relations field in Europe, including demographic and employment data about women practitioners and educators
- To compare and contrast European PR with other countries, such as the USA, from a gender perspective.
- To show the issues that women practitioners and educators in Europe are concerned with.
- To compare and contrast European public relations within itself through the challenges and opportunities that women public relations practitioners and educators are dealing with in each European country context.
- To discuss the specific variables that affect the work of women public relations practitioners and educators within each country.
In addition to a profile of women in the public relations field in Europe, the project could produce additional information, such as a mini history concerning women in public relations in Europe, and profiles of important women in the field in each European country taking part in the study.
The findings from this work would provide a different perspective on our profession and will help to shape its future.
The project was originally initiated in 2009 but little progress has been made. A new project energiser began revising the project in the spring of 2011 and is submitting this latest proposal for consideration.
- Phase 1: September 2011 – April 2012 form project team; finalise subsequent phases and methodologies; gather demographic and employment data across Europe to build a profile about women working in PR. This profile could be used for comparative purposes with non-European countries such as the United States.
- Although countries have been assigned to each member to begin gathering data across Europe, progress has been slow. We will continue to work on data collection to enable us to begin to build a demographic profile for Europe.
- Phase 2: April 2012 – September 2012: team members to provide literature on the topic (from their countries) regarding general aspects of women working in PR. The resulting literature review would be prepared for the 2012 Annual Congress of EUPRERA.
- A partial literature review has been completed for the paper being presented in Istanbul. Members will continue to gather material.
- Phase 3: Based on the issues identified through the literature, team members would interview at least one woman who is a leading practitioner in each country and one woman who is a leading academic in each country to compile their views on issues facing women in PR. The findings from these interviews would form a report that would be prepared for the 2013 Annual Congress of EUPRERA.
- Thanks to Liz Yeomans’ efforts, we are investigating the possibility of submitting a bid to the European Union for social dialogue funding. We are gathering information on the bid process and timeline and discussing potential partners in order to satisfy funding criteria. We may need to change the scope of Phase 3, but no decision has been taken on this as yet.
- The initial attempt to secure funding from the EU faltered for many reasons. We are now preparing a submission for funding through ERASMUS for a focused activity that would take place in the summer of 2014 and include the materials developed within the project.
- We are also beginning work on defining the selection criteria in order to begin the interviews of women academics and practitioners across Europe who have made a significant contribution to the development and success of women in PR in Europe.
- A subsequent bid was submitted to the EU and this bid has been successful.
A 10-day postgraduate programme which addresses the issue of gender segregation in Public Relations (PR) in Europe has been hosted by Leeds Metropolitan University in the summer of 2014 (see below). Three members of the project put forward the successful funding proposal to the British Council and the EU: Liz Yeomans, a Principal Lecturer in PR and Communications in Leeds Met’s Faculty of Business and Law; Romy Frohlich, Professor from the Institute of Communication and Media Research at Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich, and Serra Gorpe, the Faculty of Communication at Istanbul University. The programme focused on gender awareness, cross-cultural communication, leadership, strategic communication and personal effectiveness as part of a European shared learning experience. It involved academics and practitioners in the delivery and assessment. The number of countries participating in the study affects the scope of the research and the deadlines as well.
EUPRERA Women in Public Relations in Europe (Erasmus Intensive Programme)
Leeds Metropolitan University, 21 July to 1 August 2014
Funded by British Council/EU
The WIPRE Erasmus Intensive Programme (IP) was hosted this summer by Leeds Metropolitan University, UK, together with partners Istanbul University (College of Communication and Women’s Studies) and Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich (Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaft und Medienforschung). The event was overseen by project member Dr Liz Yeomans and supported by other members including Dr |Romy Frohlich, Dr Serra Gorpe and Gloria Walker. The primary aims were to facilitate a European shared learning experience of gender in public relations and to enable all participants to make a difference to practice, the curriculum and knowledge.
Twenty-three students from the three institutions attended the programme, along with academic staff. More than half the students were studying on postgraduate public relations programmes at their respective universities.
The programme comprised a wide range of learning activities over a 10 day period, including lectures, guest presentations, group meetings, research interviews, off-site practice visits and personality inventories. The most successful session, according to our evaluation, was a ‘round-table’ event which comprised three research presentations linked to the theme of Leadership, Career Effectiveness and the Relevance of Gender. The round-table event enabled students to question the speakers and other invited guests (both practitioners and scholars), followed by a plenary session.
During the two week period, students were tasked with working collaboratively in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural groups to research four different themes: feminist perspectives of public relations; PR and the influence of gendered cultures; strategic communication and the relationship between PR and journalism; and leadership, career effectiveness and the relevance of gender. Opportunities were provided for group members to interview women practitioners so that there was a ‘real-world’ edge to the research projects. The papers were presented at the end of the second week. The students returned positive overall evaluations of their intensive learning experience, as did the academic staff.
The project was rewarding but very hard work for the project members and the academic staff at LMU. Special thanks to all of them for making this project so successful.
Planned outcomes/outputs from Summer 2014 event
One of the planned outcomes of the IP is a seminar, symposium or panel (at the EUPRERA conference) to share and develop knowledge of women/gender and public relations in Europe.
Other outputs include a website to act as a hub for research (including the top student paper) and a teaching handbook. We would like some advice about the best way to establish the online research hub as there are already a number of papers that could be posted and questions for further research posted.