Despite the fourth wave of feminism emerging back in 2012, slipping ten positions from 2016, Singapore ranks 65th in the Global Gender Gap Report 2017 according to the World Economic Forum. In fact, The Straits Times reported that there has been no improvement in Singapore's gender pay gap since 2006. Unfortunately, the PR industry is no exception.
‘The Gender Pay Gap Explained: How much does a woman (insert profession) make every month’ by The Straits Times, Mar 2018
From the very recent statistic above, we can observe how the gender pay gap in Singapore’s PR industry is quite significant, with men in Advertising/PR managerial positions earning a median salary of $6,977, while women earn $6,414 (a difference of nearly 9%).
Global Women in PR Survey Results’ found in The World PR Report 2017
This unfortunate statistic is also reflected on a global scale. For the first time in the World PR Report, gender pay gap was included, showing an annual average gender pay gap of $6,072 (11%). Additionally, it was found that 78% of CEOs in the top 30 PR agencies worldwide are men despite 2/3 of the global PR industry being female.
Why is it that despite PR being a female-dominated industry, our leaders are still male-dominated?
It seems that self-promoting is more natural for men, while self-blaming is more common in women. This is reflected in the World PR Report 2017, where men are seen to be more confident of asking for a pay rise or promotion.
Ironically, according to a Gallup survey, many women don’t want to work for other women, due to the ‘tougher expectations’ women often have for other women.
One speculation as to why the PR field is female dominated, is due to women’s choice of majors. With fewer women in courses such as engineering and math, the majority go on to pursue tracks such as communications, eventually landing them in PR.
In an analysis of the American Community Survey, the University of Maryland College Park, found that 47 percent of women and 35 percent of men who undertook communications related courses naturally landed a career in PR.
Women are often perceived as more empathetic, better listeners and more willing to invest in relationship building. These skills are crucial in liaising with and advocating for their clients, thus attracting more women to the PR industry.
Are men really just better leaders compared to women?
A study by the BI Norwegian Business School, assessing the personality and characteristics of nearly 3,000 managers, concluded that in nearly all areas, women were better leaders than their male counterparts.
Though men fared better at dealing with work-related stress and were more emotionally stable. Women did better than men in four of the five categories studied: communication, innovation, sociability and goal-setting.
Another study of 353 Fortune 500 companies, found that companies with the highest representation of women in senior management teams had a higher return on equity and returns to shareholders by more than a third.
While we may weep for female PR practitioners, let us not forget our fallen brothers. Though male leaders in the PR industry are generally better off, male PR practitioners have troubles of their own.
PR is a lonely industry for men. Most PR firms have a largely female culture, which may exclude men. Male PR practitioners, especially those in the sectors of entertainment and lifestyle, are more likely to have experienced some form of sexism at work.
Segregation in majors is one of the reasons women and men go into different fields. While there have been programs to encourage women to enter male-dominated fields such as engineering and computer science, few encourage men to enter female-dominated industries such as nursing and PR. The double standard against men also exists.
The significance of the fourth wave of feminism, is how it promotes and reiterates the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes. As we strive towards equality, both men and women should not be left behind.
Men can be just as good listeners, just as women can be good leaders in the PR Industry. Let us do away with double standards and gender discrimination.
Diversity is one of the most valued traits in PR, allowing us to better respond to the varying needs of our many clients. Gender balance is one factor that would significantly contribute to greater diversity in the PR industry, allowing us to better understand the different perspectives of different clients. Let us stop stagnating our own industry and work towards a thriving gender-neutral PR environment and addressing that pesky gender pay gap may just be a good place to start.