Most of my work life so far had been spent in the field of higher education. Over the years, I participated in graduation ceremonies and even enjoyed the privilege of anchoring some of them. I have observed with keen interest, how the girls held the audience captivated, with the number of prizes and awards they went home with. Many of those years, a girl was the best graduating student. However, in the workspace, those girls are nowhere to be found blazing the trail in leading positions. Probably, my view is myopic. You would tell.
Nevertheless, it is a new dispensation. This time, I am a student. I am nowhere near home. Everything is different. The countries, cultures, people, food, and many more. Except this- the game. It hasn’t changed. In my class of 16 at the 2nd Tier level of the International Communication 1 programme at Vilnius University2, Lithuania, only three were male. Unfortunately, all three did not complete the course. In each of the groups I belonged during the same programme at Leeds Beckett University3 in the United Kingdom, less than 10% were male. Yet, sadly, this may not reflect in the world of work, eventually.
Howbeit, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) 4 is one of the global Public Relations professional bodies working hard to ensure progress on the issue of gender balance, especially in the public relations industry. The body has, among others, focused on gender pay5, describing the issue as one which cannot be ignored as “over two-thirds of public relations practitioners are women,” Sarah Hall6 (2015), former president of the CIPR affirmed. Over two thirds? More than half? Then, you and I have this challenge of making an impact on this number. There should and must be a balance, a paradigm shift, and a game change. And in case you wondering what else can be done, let’s take a look together.
Start or continue at your base. All over the world, Public Relations and Communications students are trained. For example, Robert Minton-Taylor7, one of the celebrated 70 PR practitioners whom CIPR acknowledged as having had “outstanding or exemplary public relations practice”8 when the organisation turned 70 in 2018, endorsed students of the PR Skills module of the Leeds Beckett University Business School, United Kingdom. These students from 16 countries of the world, were described as individuals with “great talent and inquisitive minds.”9 For someone who has had over half a century of experience in Public Relations and Journalism, with many high profile appointments and excellent service, his recommendation cannot be ignored. All over the world, great minds are nurtured daily. Should we just sit and wait for some global impact somewhere? No.
“The world is waiting for us to act in our own countries, from our own little corners.”
Hence, this call to action is to everyone, because we all need one another to thrive.
Already, the gender pay gap which the CIPR has on its burner has been mentioned earlier. Several other gender-related issues which would justify the numbers and create balance in the PR industry, especially at the top abound. Think about a small part or replicate what you have seen or heard before in from your own little space. It could be in proposing the gender policy or gender representation in any field, at any level, irrespective of how small or insignificant it seems. For example, the Netherlands Universities Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC), 10 managing the disbursement of funds on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, grants 50% of its Orange Knowledge Programme 11 fellowships to women. Somebody or some group somewhere, someday, saw the need for this and kept on soliciting until it became embedded in the policy.
“Advocacy begins from the least expected of places, doing ordinary things, before igniting at a greater level.”
Social Media 12 has catalysed publicity in every sense. PR professionals are required to embrace social media more than ever before now. Use it. When any progress is made with advocacy on gender issues, blow your own trumpet.13 For once, let us stop to give ourselves the service of publicity. And even though it may seem that the numbers are still not close, always remind yourself that we should not widen that gap. One day, the high number of qualified girls who graduated all over the world would transcend the glass ceiling 14 as desired. Howbeit, achieving success in this regard, is a task for all.
1Curriculum. Programme » Master International Communication. Available at: https://masterinternationalcommunication.eu/programme/ [Accessed May 3, 2019].
2Vilnius University. VU Faculty of Communication. Available at: http://www.kf.vu.lt/en/ [Accessed May 3, 2019].
3MA International Communication Course. Leeds Beckett University. Available at: https://courses.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/intlcommunication_ma/ [Accessed May 3, 2019].
4CIPR. Chartered Institute of Public Relations | Chartered Institute of Public Relations. Available at: https://www.cipr.co.uk/ [Accessed May 3, 2019].
5CIPR. Gender pay | Chartered Institute of Public Relations. Available at: https://www.cipr.co.uk/content/policy/policy/gender-pay [Accessed May 3, 2019].
6Cipr, 2015. CIPR. CIPR tackles gender issues in PR head-on with a four-point plan. Available at: https://newsroom.cipr.co.uk/cipr-tackles-gender-issues-in-pr-head-on-with-a-four-point-plan/ [Accessed May 3, 2019]
7Robert Minton-Taylor. Leeds Beckett University. Available at: https://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/staff/robert-mintontaylor/ [Accessed May 3, 2019].
8Cipr, 2018. CIPR. Meet the 70 at 70 – CIPR celebrates inspiring members. Available at: https://newsroom.cipr.co.uk/meet-the-70-at-70—cipr-celebrates-inspiring-members/ [Accessed May 4, 2019].
9PR Talent That Will Change Your Business. LinkedIn. Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/pr-talent-change-your-business-robert-minton-taylor [Accessed May 4, 2019].
10Nuffic homepage – EN. Nuffic. Available at: https://www.nuffic.nl/en/ [Accessed May 4, 2019].
112019. Orange Knowledge Programme. Study in Holland. Available at: https://www.studyinholland.nl/study/scholarships/highlighted-scholarships/orange-knowledge-programme [Accessed May 4, 2019]
12 Dollarhide, M., 2019. Social Media. Investopedia. Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/social-media.asp [Accessed May 4, 2019].
13BLOW YOUR OWN TRUMPET/HORN | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary. Cambridge Dictionary. Available at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/blow-your-own-trumpet-horn [Accessed May 4, 2019].
142019. Glass ceiling. Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_ceiling [Accessed May 4, 2019].