By Kaylee Weatherly, Collegiate Outreach Chair
I looked around the auditorium on the first day of my graduate school orientation to find a women-dominating Master’s program in Strategic Public Relations. No surprise there. The field of PR is pretty female-dominated. I already knew that ratio from my undergraduate courses, where a lone one or two men were enrolled in the same PR classes as I was. But to my astonishment, today’s public relations industry still sees a huge gender wage gap.
In 2012, faculty members from San Diego State University attempted to find out why women earn less than men in the U.S. PR industry. In short, the study uses the history of public relations to explain the phenomenon. Many men dominated the industry when it first came to rise, and researchers thought women would simply “catch up” to men in years of public relations experience. But that hasn’t happened. Men still seem to have more years of experience than women in PR, and that convolutes the gender wage inequity. And those years of experience that women are missing out on is associated to a missed opportunity to excel to a manager position, which obviously is paid more than a PR technician. The survey also demonstrated that women tend to work in lower-paying specializations, such as media and community relations. Third, we come to the old adage we always hear that women experience more income-suppressing career interruptions; i.e., having children. These career interruptions contribute to lower income than men. Finally, women are paid less than men simply because they are women. Gender discrimination in pay is still alive and present in this economy where men typically have higher professional titles than women, not just in the PR industry.
So how much money are women really losing out on? In April, the National Women’s Law Center calculated that a typical full-time working woman stands to miss out on $444,000 over 40 working years than a man.
But don’t fret, ladies. The 2013 Women, Power & Money study by FleishmanHillard shows that a wave of Gen Y women are working hard to even out the odds of gender wage inequality. “The ‘Battle of the Sexes’ is becoming a foreign concept for Gen Y women around the world, who perceive greater gender equality in skills, opportunities and accomplishments.”
Even though it is an uphill battle to receive the same pay as men, women have the aspirations to achieve this result, and I’m interested to see how this gender wage gap decreases over time.