With the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day coming up Mar. 8, and the recent sex discrimination lawsuit filed against Publicis Groupe, we decided to check in on the gender divide in PR—namely the gap in salaries between men and women.
As you may have guessed, the majority of people working in public relations are women. And yet, on average women earn less than men.
Last year, Ragan.com—PR Daily‘s sister site—reported that 73 percent of the 21,000 members of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) are female. Another estimate, from the chair of the PR department at Syracuse University, put the percentage of women in the industry at 85 percent.
Despite women’s overwhelming presence in the industry, 80 percent of upper management in PR is male, according to Ragan.com.
In late 2007, PRSA performed its most recent study on the issue. The study found that men reported average annual salaries of $93,494, while on average women reported salaries of $66,467.
(The median salaries were somewhat less lopsided at $73,250 for men vs. $66,467 for women.)
A search of PayScale.com echoed these figures.
Men earn more than women at the job of PR specialist, according to PayScale.com.
At the level of manager, the disparity in wages can be even greater, based on PayScale.com‘s estimates.
At the PR director level, men also earn more than women.
We asked PRSA what it’s doing to address the concern of income disparity, and a spokesperson sent this response.
“Obviously, PRSA is concerned about this discrepancy, which is why we have published at least six industry salary surveys and reports since 1979 exploring the issue. Additionally, we have a Work Life and Gender Committee … [that] explores various issues concerning the industry’s income discrepancy and how PRSA can address those issues and help all practitioners advance their careers.”
The organization noted that one of the key factors in determining pay—whether male or female—is a person’s years of professional experience, particularly management experience. The 2007 study found that the difference in professional experience between men and women practitioners is narrowing.
International Women’s Day is billed as a time to not only recognize the achievements of women, but also note the inequalities that remain between the sexes. Considering the lopsided number of women in PR, the industry is one of the starkest reminders of the inequality in pay.
So, what are men and women doing to address the industry’s gender gap the other 364 days of the year?