Why are there so few male students in PR classes?

Two professors from Penn State University, one male and one female, discuss the lack of young men in public relations courses.

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I asked my professors why this was the case—why PR classes are so popular among women and not among men. Professors said their male student enrollment has either remained flat as the number of female students increases or, in fact, declined in the past decade.

Steve Manuel has been teaching public relations, crisis communications, and photojournalism for more than 15 years at the university. He noted a steady rise in the number of female students in his classes. The percentage of students that are female, he added, is about 85 percent. Manuel attributed the increase to several reasons, among them that the public relations field is less intriguing to men than other fields.

“PR is more of a conservative field, while advertising is more relaxed,” Manuel observed. He believes men are more attracted to the casual advertising environment than the fast-paced PR world.

Manuel said that having taught for so long, he sees clear differences between the sexes. “Women are seen as more sensitive, more approachable, and as being better listeners than men,” he said.

Manuel also brings up the paradox that men continue to dominate in the upper echelons of PR. It seems the glass ceiling is still in place. More women are reaching the top tiers, but there is still significant salary inequality between the sexes.

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