People often ask me, “Why are there so many women in public relations?” The tone in their voice inevitably implies that this reality is troublesome. I am always tempted to respond, “Because women are good at it.” However, I realise that such an argument plays into the same stereotypes that lead to gender discrimination against women in public relations and devalue the contributions of male practitioners. No empirical evidence exists to document that women are always better at public relations or that men always excel in male-dominated occupations such as engineering and science. The societal gendering of occupations is a complex phenomenon that belies trite assumptions and explanations. So, when people ask me this question, my response inevitably is, “How much time do you have?”
Working towards an equal relationship
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Linda Childers Hon
Linda Childers Hon is a professor and director of the social advocacy project in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, US. She was executive associate dean of the College from 2006 to 2012. She is the author (with Larissa Grunig and Elizabeth Toth) of Women in Public Relations: How Gender Influences Practice (Routledge, 2013).