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PR Women with Influence

Breaking Through the Ethical and Leadership Challenges


Juan Meng and Marlene S. Neill

PR Women with Influence: Breaking Through the Ethical and Leadership Challenges makes a unique and timely contribution by exploring how women in public relations navigate through attitudinal, structural and social barriers in advancing their leadership roles. The book is thoroughly grounded in rich empirical evidence gained through two phases of a funded research project conducted in the field. Phase I involves 51 in-depth interviews with current female leaders in public relations and Phase II captures women’s perceptions on gender-related barriers in leadership advancement by recruiting a national panel of female public relations professionals. 

Results presented in this book provide a compelling, current picture of women and leadership in public relations. By emphasizing our discussion on key issues and barriers as related to women in PR and their leadership advancement, the authors call for real actions and change to develop a constructive ecosystem within the organization to embrace leadership for women in PR. 

Given its sharp topic focus, wealth of empirical data, and the relevance of the topic to today’s public relations profession, this book is suitable for different audiences both nationally and globally. Such audiences include but are not limited to public relations scholars, educators and professionals, both leaders and emerging leaders, men and women, young professionals, women of color, and public relations majors. This book is appropriate for senior-level undergraduate and graduate courses in public relations and communication management to facilitate critical thinking, leadership development, and gender-related topic discussion. 

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The inspiration for PR Women with Influence came to us in the fall of 2017 at the PRSA International Conference in Boston. At that time a substantial amount of research had already been published criticizing the public relations profession for lacking racial diversity and inclusion, skewed gender representation at top leadership, persistent pay gap between men and women, whites and nonwhites, and frequent ethical transgressions that undermine ethical public relations practice. The wide variety of topics in which these studies were conducted inspired us to develop a project with the objective of bridging the current ethical and leadership challenges facing the women in public relations and the most urgent need to diversify the profession. In essence, by turning our focus on women in public relations and examining the ethical and leadership challenges they are facing, our purpose is to stimulate scholarly research from the perspectives of ethics and leadership development that supports public relations education, advances theory building in public relations literature, stimulates change, informs practice, and transforms the profession to be more diverse, equal and inclusive.

Career advancement and leadership development continue to be challenging for women in public relations over the decades, but what better way to overcome the barriers than to learn from the experiences of women who have identified the obstacles and found ways to overcome them. With this in mind, we grounded this book in rich empirical evidence gained through two phases of research conducted ←xv | xvi→in the...

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