Why do so few men go into PR?

I haven’t worked on the client/agency side of PR now for almost four years. But, when I was, I was typically one of a handful (and in a few cases the ONLY) guy on my PR team.

Men of PR

I’m hardly alone. According to studies, nearly 85 percent of our industry is comprised of women.

85 percent.

And among PRSA members, 73 percent are female.

Now, women will be quick to argue that men hold many leadership positions in PR, so the fact that they dominate in terms of sheer numbers means nothing.

However, when I look around the agencies here in the Twin Cities, I simply don’t see that. Beehive PR–run by the uber-smart Lisa Hannum. Weber Shandwick–Sara Gavin and a number of senior women leaders. Padilla Speer Beardsley–Lynn Casey, of course. And, there are a number of great corporate women PR leaders–Kelly Groehler at Best Buy, Gail Liebl at Travelers, and Gabby Nelson at Sleep Number (client) just to name a few.

Anyway, I’m not here to debate that topic–but I do continue to wonder why so few men go into PR at an early age?

I would suggest a few theories:

More money in other professions

Unlike many women (sorry, blanket statement), more men are driven by money (and power). And PR simply doesn’t provide that like other industries do (I’m thinking of professional services like accounting and legal, and the medical profession). Men are simply following the money.

It’s not a “manly” profession

Guys see how PR is portrayed in the media. They see the movies that show women working in PR. It has a reputation now as an industry that’s mostly made up of women. Over time, that has a tendency to feed itself. I think there’s a certain stigma attached to PR–and that drives men away.

They don’t understand PR

PR isn’t one of those professions everyone understands. And, when you’re choosing a major, that’s a big deal. Accounting, law, engineering, financial services. These are industries that, on the surface, are easier to understand. Therefore, more men are seeking them out.

There’s a generational issue at play

Sons grow up watching their fathers. Many fathers work in industries like financial services, engineering, construction and the like. Those sons grow up watching their fathers, emulating them. And, in turn, they end up going into those same professions. How many 50-year-olds do you know who have daughters in the PR field? I know a number–mostly moms and daughters. Case in point.

What do you think? Why are so few men going into PR today?

Note: Photo courtesy of Judy via FlickR Creative Commons.

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61 comments on “Why do so few men go into PR?

  1. VincentHazleton says:

    Please get the numbers right. I don’t know of any studies which show 85% of practitioners are women. Data from the federal govt., Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of employers and the monthly Current Population survey of the census bureau shows that 60% women and 40% men in PR. In PRSA 71% of members are women not 73%.
    VINCENT Hazleton, PhD, APR, Fellow PRSA
    Professor of Communication
    Radford University

  2. rturco122 says:

    alexadig guess I’m an exception!!

  3. alexadig says:

    rturco122 you got it!!!

  4. MoSharee8 says:

    CoSIDAnews arikhanson Makes you wonder if sports PR/MR positions are also included in these studies. Probably won’t skew too much though

  5. arikhanson says:

    CoSIDAnews And financial, B2B and a few others…

  6. BenChelliah says:

    missy_gi: That’s an interesting piece. There is some truth in it, I guess. But why would anyone NOT want to do PR? It’s amazing. :)

  7. WisdomGirlFilms says:

    Hoojobs I worked at a PR agency BRIEFLY – it was a HEN house. Annoying. #PR

  8. daveharrison004 says:

    It’s likely not changing either. I’m currently working on an advanced diploma in public relation. In our class of thirty there are five male students, which from what I’ve been told is actually pretty high. By comparison in last year’s class of 30 there was one male student.

  9. FrankDefalco says:

    I am not sure why I am one of those few male students in PR also currently enrolled in a program. When looking at beefing up my skills PR looked like a perfect fit for me. It never occurred to me it was dominated to such an extent by woman. I don’t really agree with any of the points above, maybe a little about “understanding,” the skills needed to excel in PR are in self reflection not something well regarded in what being a man is supposed to be. 
    If one worries about it anyway you are in the wrong industry. Like many other things that seem to scream for an answer and are not clear, they are a myriad reasons why.

  10. GlennSmithPR says:

    All I know is I’ve been trying to work in PR for about a year now, applying all over the place, going to social media and PR gatherings all over Seattle, and so far no one has enough trust in me to hire me.
    What I’m seeing most is a catch-22-type situation: you need the experience to get the experience. When I read success stories of people getting PR internships, leading to full-time jobs, mostly what I feel is resentment. It’s like there’s some secret thing I don’t have that young, less-experienced people do. It makes no sense to me.

    I’d still love to work in PR. I’m still slogging away. I’ve even got a blog dedicated to it. Currently I’m veering my career search toward copywriting, because that’s a skill PR firms want to see.