Stephanie Heckman

Unequal pay in Public Relations?

In Career, Public Relations, Women's Issues on February 18, 2013 at 5:29 am


It’s been four years since the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed in 2008. This question has been on every career woman’s mind: is it finally better yet?

In almost every field, men still make around 20 percent more than women do. Back in 2005, women earned 81 percent of what men did, which was an all-time high. This gap has increased in the last eight years and only recently returned to 2005 levels. Black and Latina women have even bigger pay gaps compared. Respectively, they earn 69 and 54 percent of white males, according to

Women receive the same education, have the same amount of debt, are more likely to attend college and have higher GPAs (3.11 versus 2.94) on average. Why is there still a gap? Some argue that the pay gap exists because of choices in career in college majors, with men more likely to choose STEM careers. However, studies show that there is still a 7 percent gap on average between men and women in the same occupation. This difference may be due to discrimination, according to USA Today.

According to a recent post by NPR, the jobs with the smallest gaps tend to be the lowest paying. The pay gap varies by profession: it’s 74 cents on the dollar in financial professions and a shocking 53.7 percent in the legal industry, according to Forbes.

What is the gap for women working in PR? The majority of PR professionals are women, including 73 percent of all members of the Public Relations Society of America. However, 80 percent of top PR management consist of men while women continue to make less. As an industry gains a higher percentage of women, the profession’s prestige and pay tends to decrease.

In 2006, women in PR made 69 percent of what men did. In 2010, that difference was down to 60 percent. Female PR professionals with less than 5 years of experience make $29,726 compared to $48,162 for men. In the 15 to 20 year range, it’s $49,270 compared to $69,120.

Worldwide, the pay gap is 16 percent. For adults without children, the gap is only 7 percent but widens to twenty-two percent after women have had at least one child, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) claims that the lack of childcare is the main reason why women without children make lower salaries.

A lack of childcare options can lead to career interruption. Case in point: the cost of childcare is 65 percent of a family’s second wage in the US and UK. Women who take time off work to raise children have the largest pay gaps and are rehired for lower salaries than women who remain in their professions.

What are your thoughts on the wage gap? What can be done to narrow it? What have you experienced in your career?

  1. […] women experience less discrimination in public relations? Although most PR professionals are women, women in PR make less money on average and are less likely to fill upper-level […]

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