Is PR Only A Woman’s Profession Now?

Men be warned, this article may be alarming, even disheartening. Women, rejoice, Beyoncé is correct, “We run the world!”….Or at least we run the marketing world! Three years ago, a man named Mark Ritson of the MBA program at Melbourne Business School wrote a report which revealed scientific evidence to support “why women make better marketers than men.” According to Ritson, a remarkable number of case studies have proven that successful marketing campaigns have less to do with strategy and more to do with gender-  female marketers continue to out-perform their male counterparts.

Samantha Jones: There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Carrie Bradshaw: Yeah, you would say that, you’re a publicist.

Traditionally, males worked outside the home and served as the sole breadwinner for the family. Today, society has changed significantly and now both sexes share and battle for the most powerful professions. However, in the PR world, a gender imbalance persists where at least 70% of today’s practitioners are female. Some managers would argue that such a prevalent imbalance creates an unhealthy workforce. Stereotypes would contend that women have the advantage when it comes to marketing and PR as they are better at visual communication, packaging, design and all things pretty. However, science argues that the advantage lies in genetics; women’s brains are better designed for marketing and PR. Let’s investigate some of the reasons why, genetically speaking, women are the PR breadwinners…


The PR business is built on understanding your client’s brand and communicating the brand to their target market, therefore, the most important skill for any PR professional is empathy. Without empathy for the target market, any publicity and marketing efforts are probably going to be in vain. Women’s brains are, quite literally, better at understanding others. Male marketers are more likely to make the crucial error of assuming their own thoughts and reactions can be reasoned to that of the target market. Female marketers are more likely to get inside the head of the market and base their strategies around the real needs and trends of consumers.

Brand Communication

Women and men process information differently; women concentrate on the intricacies and specific details whereas men prefer to rely on general rules and principals. So, theoretically speaking, let’s assign one male PR account manager and one female PR account manager to a luxury brand. The male brand manager is likely to review his previous experiences and successes and apply existing rules and strategies that he has found to work on previous projects to the new brand strategy. However, the female brand manager is better able to disconnect her past experiences and to understand the current brand and its unique elements and features. She can rely on her extra levels of empathy to understand, from the consumer’s perspective, what makes the new brand so powerful. She can take those insights and formulate a superior, more appropriate brand strategy than her male colleague.

Brand Competitors

Women have a deeper processing power and more thought-linking capabilities which create a more contextual understanding of the market which allows them to recognise competition diversity. However, men reign superior at spatial reasoning. Difficult spatial problems require single-mindedness, therefore the tougher the challenge, the more the male brain excludes other determinants and focuses on the problem directly. In marketing and PR, this stagnate response to competition can lead to disaster as (male) marketers may fail to recognise the true range of their competitors. They are inclined to recognise their main threat and focus efforts, attention and budget entirely on their most threatening competitor.

Interesting and inconsistent to this evidence the male population which does exist in PR tends to be older, more experienced professionals and as such, these more experienced men, are inclined to be paid more than their female colleagues. Along with experience, the average male works longer hours than a woman, as it is widely demonstrated that family concerns can reduce a woman’s earning power. Another significant factor is that men earn more in PR because a higher percentage of men work in the higher paying disciplines; men dominate the top jobs in industrial/manufacturing, financial services, professional services and consulting.

So ladies and gentlemen, a few burning questions still remain –do we believe that genetically speaking women make for better PR professionals- is this evidence science or science fiction? Does the future of the PR profession belong in the hands of the female practitioner or will the males rise to the challenge and become the PR breadwinners?

The PR industry is a vibrant and expanding marketplace with enough positions for both male and female practitioners. This article was not intended to argue which sex is better suited to the PR profession but to investigate if the future of PR will become an inherently female vocation? So, to all those occupying a chair in a PR agency- look at the hard evidence surrounding you- whom do you see?  Female colleagues. Women totally dominate the numbers in PR. Perhaps the reason is in our genes…

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