Sumathi M Chari, Director, and Senior Partner, PRHUB
“The number of women in the PR industry has consistently increased over the years and it continues to grow. At entry levels, the ratio of female to male hires today is approximately 3:1, as per a recent PR Week Article. Despite this, the gender stereotypes in the industry glare at you. The age-old one that overrides, of course, is ascribing female PR practitioners as ‘good looking and trivial, small-talk weapons’ to manage client and media relations. As a result, a large number of them are confined to roles and to domains such as fashion or lifestyle perceived to be women-centric. Women PR professionals should work towards breaking this image by increasing their domain knowledge and more importantly, by engaging in conversations focused on such subjects with peers, media and clients alike.
The other sad reality is that despite a large number of women in the industry, few emerge and sustain at senior leadership levels and roles in organizations. While there are multiple larger factors including the perception issue of the business value that women in leadership roles bring to the table, maternity and family-work balance continues to be a big roadblock for many young, capable women at mid-levels, just when they are at the turning point of their careers. Undoubtedly, this is a phase that needs to be handled as per an individuals’ comfort, however, women should stop two things- planning for it much in advance & slowing down and talking about it or posing it as a constraint extensively and more than required. I have seen women stretch, remain flexible and contribute as effectively as their male counterparts but they create this as an obstacle in their growth themselves, simply because they are talking about it at work all the time with the hope of setting expectations, despite working equally hard!
The PR industry would definitely benefit by breaking these and other smaller gender stereotypes, enabling us to tap into quality talent better.”
This article was first published in MediaNews4U.com's Women Leaders Decode #BreakingStereotypes Series. Click here to read the complete article