Is PR a ‘Pink Ghetto’?


I am eternally fascinated by the creation of new buzzwords and phrases to describe developments in our modern world, and as they relate to PR in particular, but I must confess I am underwhelmed by the latest concept of the moment – that of the ‘pink ghetto‘ and speculation this week that PR is one such ‘ghetto’.

What is a ‘Pink Ghetto‘ I hear you ask?  According to news reports, a ‘Pink Ghetto’ is an industry that is described as being ‘highly feminised’, i.e. where women make up a predominant percentage of the workforce.  Okay, that explains the ‘pink’ part, but the ‘ghetto’ aspect is less than flattering and has the implication that women get stuck there, and that their presence therein implies some loss of freedom and scaling-down of entitlements.

It would be of little surprise to many that such professions as teaching (particularly primary teaching) nursing and childcare have long been regarded as Pink Ghettos, but I was somewhat surprised to read the recent reporting this week (click here to read the coverage) that both human resources and PR are now regarded as Pink Ghettos too.

A report by Sydney recruitment firm Salt & Shein has found areas like public relations and human resources can be practically male-free zones, which according to the study had left women feeling  “pigeonholed” in certain roles, that there was a “logistical nightmare” managing maternity leave and flexible working arrangements for mothers, and ultimately a lack of diverse views.

I must admit to being fairly puzzled by this reporting.  Why is it that male-dominated professions like mining or automotive industries or banking and finance are not regarded as ‘Blue Ghettos’?

I believe that the subtext of this debate, and what is not being said, is that industries that are regarded as Pink Ghettos are not seen as being prestigious or well-paid, and while that may be true for nursing, teaching and childcare, I don’t agree that the same is true for PR, which provides an industry for men and women that is interesting, stimulating, highly-skilled and well-remunerated.

From my own experience, as PRincipal of Publicity Queen, I have deliberately sought out and incorporated into my team talented, intelligent women and I celebrate the contribution they have made and continue to make to my business and to the clients whom they represent.

Applause also must go to the National President of the Public Relations Institute of Australia Nick Turner, (who is a man, did anyone notice?) who in response to this week’s reporting said any suggestion that corporate affairs teams made up of only women may not be taken as seriously as a male team was “offensive – to females and males” and was “1900s thinking”.  Bravo! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Even if we accept the statistics that suggest that PR does have a preponderance of women working within in it, let’s own this fact and be proud; and rather than a ‘ghetto’, let’s celebrate the pink powerhouse, the pink presidential suite or even the pink corner office! There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.


Yours in PR,

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6 Comments »

  1. Amelia Russell Said:

    You are way off base, Ms. Queen. PR has been a pink ghetto since the beginning of time. Filled with attractive young women who may have good social skills, but limited educational or professional training and who often are daughters, wives, nieces, or girlfriends of the rich and powerful ….PR positions get by with paying little. Since the work is usually considered glamorous, the jobs don’t have to have competitive salaries.

    • Caroline Said:

      I think you are the one off base, Amelia. What you say may be true for some female PR practitioners, but you reveal little knowledge about the industry with that kind of generalization. And I’m personally offended by your condescending views.

      I work in a PR agency – a job I got without the help of relatives or friends, where the majority of us are men and all of us are highly educated and experienced within business, journalism, strategy, politics and communication, and – I am well paid for my age (and I can admit that it is not because of my looks).

      It’s not pink, and it’s definitely not a ghetto.

      The only area I can think of where you might actually be right, is within fashion PR, where young girls practically work for free, just for the experience of it.

  2. Melinda Said:

    I think Pink Powerhouse sounds much more fabulous!

    I agree, it should be celebrated.

    And as someone studying a Communications degree to one day work in PR, I find the above comment a little offensive!

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