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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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Chapter Two Research Design and Methods How We Approach This Subject



Research Design and Methods

How We Approach This Subject


This chapter explains the research design and methods used in this project. In order to obtain a deep understanding of the subject, we used both qualitative (i.e. in-depth interviews) and quantitative (i.e. cross-sectional online survey) research methods to collect responses from targeted populations nationwide. This chapter is organized by two large sections. Section 1 provides a detailed description of the qualitative phase of our research design and the profiles of the interviewees. Section 2 explains the quantitative phase of the research. Detailed demographic profiles of our survey participants are documented in this section as well.

Research Design and Methods

A mixed research design and combined methodology is used in this project in order to obtain comprehensive knowledge. The two-phase study, jointly funded by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Communication, included in-depth interviews of top female executives in public relations and communication management and a national online survey of female professionals in public relations and communication management at various stages of their professional career across different types of organizations.

Phase 1: In-Depth Interviews of Top Female Executives in Communication Profession

To gain a deep understanding of how women in public relations define influence, the challenges they face in achieving positions in leadership and how they have overcome those challenges, we conducted 51...

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