Gender issues in Public Relations exposed
A new book about gender and public relations has won a major USA award and is positioned to shake up PR from the inside out.
Edited by Deakin’s Associate Professor Kristin Demetrious and Dr Christine Daymon from Murdoch University, Gender and Public Relations: Critical Perspectives on Voice, Image and Identity, has been awarded the National Communication Association’s Outstanding Book PRide Award.
This award recognises the book’s significant contribution to understanding the often hidden influence of public relations in shaping how we think about gender issues.
As researchers in public relations, the editors felt compelled to shine a torch on contemporary issues concerning people working in PR, as well as communication campaigns that are influenced by gender. They have put together a collection with chapters from leading academics from the US, UK, Australia and Asia, and strongly believe that there are gains for the public relations industry in confronting some of these issues.
“The industry is potentially losing good talent because of too much focus on personal appearance and the ‘emotional labour’ of making people feel good,” Dr Demetrious said.
“In my research, I have identified a range of limiting traps for women, such as focusing too much on how you dress and your bodily image rather than the substance of the job. These are some of the factors that can result in a career plateau. But, interestingly, today this can be the case for men too, particularly gay men working in PR.”
Dr Daymon’s research on the PR industry in Australia also suggested that the cultural factors that normalise sexist behaviour still exist in the industry, both in the workplace and in the way PR as a communication technique can be used to obscure genuine gender concerns.
The book is published by Routledge New Directions in Public Relations and Communication. An interview with the editors can be found on the Routledge website.