Is the gender balance in Irish PR swinging back to men?

Written by Jim Walsh

Last month in Walsh Public Relations we sought a new client executive and for the first time in many years we received a strong number of applications from men.

A search for an intern also drew our attention to the fact that the percentage of a young men studying for a Masters in PR in the Dublin Institute of Technology last year rose to over 35%. For many years the figure was under 25%.

Not a very scientific analysis, but I wonder is it an indication that the gender balance at entry and executive level in the Irish PR world might be changing?

Two years ago I wrote about the excellent gender balance in PR at senior level. In Ireland that was very much down to the introduction of formal PR education, which allowed more women to enter PR as a professional career.

Within the Public Relations Consultants Association (Ireland) 50% of CEOs are women. I suspect that the international picture is somewhat similar. We are partners in the IPREX international network where the balance of male/female CEOs is also close to 50/50.

PR and indeed many media sectors are not particularly family friendly working environments, yet it doesn’t stop its leaders balancing family and work. I assume some manage that balance better than others. But in general compared to, for example politics, women are successful without gender quotas. Irish political parties are now required to put forward at least 30% of women for election.

Personally I am not a fan of employment quotas in any sphere. I favour hiring on the basis of characteristics such as knowledge, ability, integrity, work ethic, potential and the value that a person can add to the organisation.

In PR and the media in general it would appear that gender is no barrier to a successful career. In the 1960s and 1970s it tended to be men who held most senior positions. Then in the 80s, 90s and so far this century the pendulum swung in favour of women.

But if we are seeing more men coming through the PR education system, then the competition for senior positions in the coming years could be more balanced than it has ever been.

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