Don’t Fret Over All The “Chicks”

Woman WorldAs a male who works in a profession dominated by other males, being enrolled in the public relations program at Kent State University gives me an opportunity to be something I’m usually not–a minority.

Every night at roll call, I sit in a room of approximately 20 other men and one woman. Us guys, being who we are, usually talk about guy stuff.  We carry on, usually with little regard to the female co-worker who may be near.  She never complains.  She often joins in.  We’re all cops.  We’re all on the same team.

In class though, it’s a whole other world.  Unlike law enforcement, the public relations field is one that is dominated by women.  And since I’m usually one of only a couple of men in any PR class, I must assume women dominate the public relations field starting in college. 

While checking out Marcel Goldstein’s blog, I discovered that just last year, Sharon Barclay of Blanc and Otus  conducted some of her own research into the subject after wondering to herself “why there’s so many chicks in PR.”  She came up with three reasons:

  1. Society and History – According to Barclay, the success of women in public relations is partly rooted in a tradition of women participating in fields that require service and “pleasing,” like teaching or nursing.
  2. Business Environment – Along with human relations, it’s one of the only viable channels through which women can make their way to the boardroom.
  3. DNA – Women have ten times the amount of white matter in their brains.  According to Barclay’s research, white matter is responsible for the emotional intelligence required in the field.

Barclay summarized her research in a podcast interview last year with Sam Whitmore’s Tech Media This Week.  Her findings are interesting enough, and she seems to have put forth a noble effort in studying the subject.

But you know what?  When it comes down to demographics in the PR field, I don’t care.  And since I am the minority, I’m pretty sure I have the right to say that.

I think you set a dangerous precedent in any workplace when you start to become concerned with workplace demographics.  I think this for two reasons:

  1. An adverse effect on workplace unity – An “us vs. them,” or “him vs. us” mentality gets in the way of workplace goals.  Every person should be thought of as a teammate, not a member of a particular gender.  If I’m around, and you want to talk to someone else about “womanly” things, I don’t care.  We’re on the same team. 
  2. Gender takes place along side qualifications – I never want to be hired anywhere because I’m a guy.  Except for a few jobs (Hooters and Chippendales among others), gender should not be a consideration when it comes to hiring.  Competence and qualifications should be all that matters.  It’s not fair to the employer, and it’s not fair to the other employees.

So ladies, if I happen to walk by while you’re talking to each other, and you think I may be offended by what you’re saying, don’t worry about it.  And, in my humble opinion, that’s the way you should regard any male co-worker you may encounter in the field.  

Well, except maybe for the boss.  Unfortunately, Barclay’s research indicates that men still hold most of the higher positions in public relations. 

Otherwise, you should speak and behave just as you would with your female co-workers.  Any other man in the workplace who wants to complain should be made to deal with it, or if possible, shown the door.

Just whatever you do, please, please don’t give him an apology!




Filed under Apology, Blanc and Otus, Public Relations, Women in Public Relations

4 responses to “Don’t Fret Over All The “Chicks”

  1. Being in the PR blogworld, I was a part of this discussion. One of the questions I asked at the time was, where are the A-list PR bloggers, it turned out to be 14 percent of the top 50 PR bloggers were women? I also looked at the top 50 Technorati bloggers, and found that it stood at 12 percent. This was last March, I wonder what it is now?

  2. That’s interesting Kami. I never really thought about the gender of who was blogging PR, I just read what the author had to say. Since they dominate the field, more women in PR should start to blog. The audience would benefit from hearing more from a woman’s perspective.

  3. Michele Ewing


    I wholeheartedly agree that the most talented, competent person should be hired for the job; however, a diversified workforce helps to develop more effective communications strategies to reach diversified target audiences. I’d like to see more diversity in our PR classrooms.

  4. I do think diversity in the work place is a good thing, but I don’t believe diversity based on gender or race makes a workplace any more or less efficient.

    If your co-workers are worth their salt to begin with, they’ll know how to do the research and figure out how to reach any target audience, regardles of their race or gender.

    The problem comes, and I’ve seen it before, when employers try to develop a diverse work place only for the sake of having a diverse work place. Talent and ability take a back seat.

    When that happens, the diversity you sought becomes adversity.

    I think that when we strive for diversity, we need to strive more for diversity in thought and opinion, rather than race and gender. You could have an office with an employee representing every type of race, religion and gender, but if they all have the same mindset, the organization won’t be very effective. If you get the diversity in thought, you’ll inevitably get diversity in everything else.

    As far as diversity in our PR classrooms is concerned, the classrooms may not be very diverse in regard to gender, but I think they’re full of sharp thinkers.

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