Glass Ceiling? What Glass Ceiling? A Qualitative Study of How Women View the Glass Ceiling in Public Relations and Communications Management

ArticleinJournal of Public Relations Research 14(1):27-55 · November 2009with 713 Reads
Abstract
The glass ceiling persists for women in public relations and communications management, despite increasing feminization of these fields. This qualitative study seeks to identify factors that support and perpetuate the problem of the glass ceiling for women in public relations and corporate communications management. In-depth interviews and focus groups were used to allow 27 women to give their views on the glass ceiling. I suggest a new theoretical concept, negotiated resignation, for explaining the psychological process by which women come to terms with the glass ceiling. Study participants identified five factors contributing to the glass ceiling, as well as a number of strategies women can use to overcome the glass ceiling. I examine the findings from both a radical feminist and liberal feminist perspective. Recommendations for educators, students, and practitioners are included in this study, as are some comments from the 27 women who worked as managers in both agency and corporate environments.
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    • D W Guth
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  • Article
    This research represents the first attempt to provide empirical data on the roles of minority practitioners in public relations. Using an instrument developed by Glen Broom, the author uses the discriminants, management level, age, experience, education, salary, organization type and organization size to assess the status and roles of minorities working in the industry. According to the results of the study, the profile of the typical minority public relations practitioner would be a black female, age 38, who has worked for nine years in public relations and has attained a middle level position earning $38,337 annually. The findings suggest that although, the majority of the minority practitioners perceive themselves in the middle level management position, (the position that equates with the problem-solver process facilitator) their salaries are not comparable to that level. Additionally, the salaries of minority public relations professionals are not commensurate with their white counterparts.
  • Article
    This article reviews selected gender scholarship that informs the study of professional communication as well as some recent articles on professional communication that make use of gender studies. The article also suggests future research directions that include a merger of gender and professional communication scholarship. Topics covered include gender and communication and gender identity, along with gender and writing, reading, speaking language choice, visual communication, collaboration, content analysis, management, history and case studies.
  • Article
    Addresses the role of feminist scholars in the field of communication. Suggests the need to (1) monitor the status of feminist scholars in the field; (2) intervene in the field's discourses; (3) collaborate with other feminists; and (4) envision the kind of transformations needed and wanted. (SR)
  • Article
    Reexamines the assumptions and conclusions of "The Velvet Ghetto" data and other gender-related research on public relations salaries, roles, and status, in an attempt to identify counter-arguments or attempts to change the issue with respect to gender. Suggests how to examine the counter-arguments qualitatively and quantitatively. (MS)
  • Article
    Unequal treatment, unequal value and unequal power are three aspects of the gender balance argument in public relations. The few models describing how public relations is practiced do not distinguish the component parts on the basis of gender. Such models do not consider the men and women in the intra-institutional processes as processors of public relations; nor do they take into account the men and women who attempt to impact intra-institutional decisions about the public relations process. Women and men are also processors of public relations in an inter-institutional context, within the political, legal, economic, and educational contexts of a culture. Both men and women make up publics for the intended effects of public relations activity. How gender is determined in the process of public relations should be considered in efforts to make models of the process more descriptive than current models claim to be. With more attention to how ideology and research function for what is still typically a masculine-dominated world view, the assumptions of the call for gender balance in public relations can better be understood. Understanding of the public relations role in organizations may also be enriched. (Two figures are included, and 40 references are attached.) (MG)
  • Article
    In this study, I develop a feminist theory of public relations by explaining discrimination against female practitioners and positing an agenda for change. Thirty-seven "long" interviews and three focus groups conducted with female practitioners revealed that major obstacles for women are marginalization of public relations, problems stemming from male dominance at work, women's "balancing" act between career and family, and gender stereotypes. Solutions for overcoming barriers are proposed for society, organizations, public relations, and women.
  • Article
    This study proposed to advance the research on roles in public relations by considering through a feminist analysis the breadth of roles that women perform under the managerial label. Although management and technician roles have been useful as parsimonious tools to educate future public relations practitioners about public relations, these labels have begun to develop values of hierarchy and power not found when they were operationalized. Based on a sample of 1,003 respondents, we asked for self-report data on a list of 17 role activities. The resulting factor analysis of responses by gender indicated a two-factor construct that represented managerial and technical dimensions. Further analysis of the dimensions by gender indicated that a combination of roles existed; the women managers did "it all," for less money, and the men in technical roles more likely did managerial activities as well. The women technicians carried out technical tasks.
  • Article
    This paper reports on the attitudes of 443 randomly-selected public relations practitioners from two professional organizations toward the increasing number of women in public relations. Practitioner beliefs about how their own characteristics have affected their careers and the effects of demographics on the attitudes reported were also assessed.Results were that there is salary disparity in public relations between men and women. Women face special problems when they attempt to achieve management positions in public relations. Women are victims of sexual bias, either through overt acts of sex discrimination or because they are perceived differently on such attributes as managerial motivation, willingness to sacrifice work over family demands, and ability to command top salary.
  • Article
    The article examines the absence of a critical feminist perspective in the application of systems theory as a unifying paradigm for public relations. The article contends that such a paradigm actually works in opposition to the potential for excellence in public relations management posited by Grunig and others because it uncritically accepts the gendered, racist, classist and heterosexist norms that support systems theory.The article suggests that systems theory fails to acknowledge the existence of a third system that supports the approaches used by organizations to achieve homeostasis, balance or symmetry. A third system, the infrasystem, constructs both suprasystem and subsystem interactions. The article concludes with a case analysis of the institution of sport to illustrate how the infrasystem functions to preserve a system of gender privilege.