It’s time for women to man up, says Sophie Hodgson, freelance PR

Date: 04 January 2012 15:51

I’m stating upfront that I know my view won’t be popular, but the fact is that the recent PRmoment article about sexism in PR gave me the madness. The excerpts from the report made me want to cry. And not in solidarity for my fellow PR sisters, but from sheer frustration.

I’m not saying sexism doesn’t exist, of course it does, but is it rife in the industry? Please. The basic premise of the report seems to focus not on how people are treated in the work place, but the money they get. Men get more. If you think you’re getting paid too little, ever asked for more? If you are good at your job and genuinely feel there is no reason why you are being paid less, do your research and go in and ask for it. Note that turning up on time is not a reason (yes, someone did say that to me once). If men get paid more, perhaps it’s because they’re less afraid to ask. If they’ve got the focus and gumption to ask for it, then who can begrudge them the extra cash?

If you’re sat there waiting for someone to realise you’re annoyed, you’ll probably be sitting for a long time. Any decent agency, if it doesn’t think you are ready now, will put in place a development programme with set time lines to help you get that extra wad of cash. Am I the only person that thinks if people put as much effort into their job as they did whingeing about it, then perhaps they would get further in their career?

Having hit 30 this year I decided to leave my position as board director and head of technology at Speed Communications and go it alone. It’s tough, but I don’t think the pitches I lose are because I have boobs and vice versa for the ones I win. For the latter, I’d like to think it’s because after ten years in the industry I know what I’m talking about and as for the former, well sometimes things don’t work out.

My biggest fear is that the report will lead to a women-in group. It’s the PC army gone stark raving bonkers. Not only are they deeply patronising, but also the irony is that they only further “victimise” women. Oh wait, the PRCA already has one …

Then of course there is the issue of children. Motherhood is hard. The balance and compromises needed would test the patience of a saint. But I know many successful women in PR with young children. The difference is that they’ve built a business around themselves; this makes them integral to the organisation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that if you have commercial value, then you’re a business asset worth investing in – man, woman or animal (those Blue Peter dogs get good food to keep their coats that shiny).

Come on ladies, man up (pun intended). You get you where you want to go in life – so go get ‘em!

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    Bravo. Once the women have opted to man up, could some of the men please man up too?

    Name: Steve Earl
    Date: 06 Jan 2012 09:03 AM

    Totally agree. when I see the women here stepping up, they are certainly getting attention. Its a big agenda item at the moment, use it to the Diversity advantage

    Name: cressida toro

    Date: 06 Jan 2012 09:11 AM

    Take a look at this insightful discussion on why men can't do PR because they are, like, really, really stupid: http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/10477.aspx

    Name: JF

    Date: 06 Jan 2012 09:31 AM

    Agree that PR perhaps may be an industry more 'equal' than others, but it'd be illogical to say that it's entirely insulated from wider society. And in society and business in particular, there is still a problem. You can look at differences in pay, you can look at board membership or women in senior roles (see the Davies report). I think the broader issue runs much deeper than a bit of individual robustness can solve.

    Name: Clare Moore-Bridger
    Date: 06 Jan 2012 09:33 AM

    It puts all the responsibility for discrimination and disadvantage on the individual and ignores the role played by the system (and the implicit preferences often exercised by those within it) in shaping unequal distribution of rewards. It also eliminates any discussion of 'difference' since it implies that if we try hard enough, our differences simply dissolve and no longer affect our career. This argument makes those who do argue that discrimination exists look like 'slackers', who simply haven't worked hard enough. This doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Sure, have people become more empowered and thereby more successful. That will absolutely help. But don't make that the only solution - it won't fix things as long as the system itself remains unfair.

    Name: Lee Edwards

    Date: 06 Jan 2012 11:20 AM

    Hi Lee, I think you're taking things a bit literally. I'm not ignoring wider implications, but whinging about the system won't get you anywhere either. People have to drive real change rather than simply bemoaning circumstances. Of course sexism does exist in some quarters and I'm not saying those people who feel they have experienced it are slackers, you've taken my comments completely out of context with that remark. Simply put, I think people need to stop pontificating and start taking action. That is all.

    Name: Sophie Hodgson

    Date: 06 Jan 2012 05:48 PM

    When I was first contemplating the PR industry several people warned me of sexism against men. "Companies want an attractive woman representing their company, not a guy". I agree with your article Sophie. Higher pay does usually require having the gumption to ask. As far as I can tell the PR is far from a sexist industry.

    Name: Michael White
    Date: 09 Jan 2012 09:46 AM

    Great post Sophie - completely agree with your comments. It really is a "If you don't ask, you don't get!" scenario and we need to bite the bullet and just do it.

    Name: Sharmee Mavadia

    Date: 09 Jan 2012 10:05 AM

    Hi Sophie, I don't think we're that far apart - I completely agree with taking action, but my argument is that taking action on an individual basis doesn't actually change much in the overall system. So for me, the definition of 'real change' is change in the system rather than only in individual careers. This is not to say that the latter is not important, of course it is for those concerned and I'm not saying they shouldn't act to ensure they get the rewards they deserve. The argument that you put forward in the blog, however, is one that is repeated in many different contexts and is frequently used to suggest that if someone works hard enough, then success will emerge. This may be the case, but not always for everyone, and certainly not at the same pace. My concern is that if we simply repeat the argument without any caveats, we do in fact prevent discussions about real discrimination taking place - because ultimately we are always arguing that these can be overcome by individual hard work. And that, in turn, invalidates the experiences of those for whom that is not the case.

    Name: Lee Edwards

    Date: 09 Jan 2012 12:09 PM

    I enjoyed your post Sophie - food for thought for many reasons. However, I also agree with the previous poster Michael White who points at sexism in the industry against men. I've always worked in women-dominated public sector PR departments and let me tell you it's rife.

    Name: Johnno

    Date: 12 Jan 2012 11:42 AM

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