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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 Ten Building an Ecosystem A Constructive Path to Leadership for Women in PR



Building an Ecosystem A Constructive Path to Leadership for Women in PR


Women’s capacity for leadership depends not simply on their individual developmental goals, but more on the societal and organizational contexts and structures within which leadership identity is defined and leadership opportunities arise. According to research done by Catalyst on women in corporate leadership, there has been progress for women gaining leadership positions in the workplace over the past ten years (Catalyst, 2003, 2004). However, the progress is slow and the existence of various situational barriers has been reconfirmed (e.g. lack of role models, lack of significant management or line experience, the challenge of balancing family responsibilities and career advancement, etc.) in holding women back from reaching top leadership roles as evidenced by previous research (e.g. Aldoory & Toth, 2004; Aldoory, Jiang, Toth & Sha, 2008; Catalyst, 2007; Place & Vardeman-Winter, 2018; Vardeman-Winter & Place, 2017) and our current research. There seemed to be only modest change in what we found compared to what previous pioneering scholars found in terms of the gender disparity in the profession.

When looking into the literature, it is not hard to locate longitudinal research that focuses on women in middle management who have worked for Fortune 500 companies throughout the U.S. (e.g. Wentling, 2003). Based on the longitudinal track of the career development of women in the middle management and leadership (i.e. 1995–2003), the majority of those interviewed mid-level women ←197 | 198...

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