Stephanie Heckman

Archive for the ‘Women’s Issues’ Category

What Women Want in Life and Career

In Career, Multitasking, Public Relations, Women's Issues on March 12, 2013 at 5:35 am

Can we really have it all?

Rosie-the-Riveter

If Rosie the Riveter could do it, can we do it too?

Work and life balance seems to be a huge issue among modern women. LinkedIn recently published a blog post called “What Do Women Want? At Work, That Is. . .” The findings were released to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. The study found that two-thirds of women worldwide believe that finding work-life balance is the ticket to success. This is a marked difference from results 10 years ago in which women chose “salary,” “interesting job” and “responsibility” as their top choices.

Fortunately, 74% of women believe that they can “have it all” while 57% do not plan on sacrificing their career after becoming parents. The majority of women polled said that they would like a flexible work environment for the present or future, after having children. Only 14% of women did not feel it was necessary to have job flexibility. Fortunately for young women planning to enter the communications field, jobs can now be made more flexible through part-time telecommuting or even working from a coffee shop one day per week.

What’s changed? Some argue that perhaps the global economic crisis has inspired women (and men) to start prioritizing personal life and family over career. After all, career is certainly important but jobs can be lost at any time. Also, childcare is very expensive, particularly in large urban areas. Many couples want to cut back on the cost of childcare and dining out by working fewer hours. This also may be related to the emergence of urban gardening, crafting, sewing, knitting and cooking seen in many hip neighborhoods.

With my educational background in Strategic Communication and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, this topic is of particular interest to me. Do 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 positions.

By nature, PR professionals must be great at multitasking and stereotypically, women are also claimed to be great at this skill. However, public relations executive was recently named the seventh most stressful job – more stressful than journalism or working as a police officer! It makes sense that PR is so stressful: you must be constantly multitasking, planning, representing an entire organization, handling multiple jobs and preparing for crisis communications. It doesn’t seem easy to balance such a stressful job with family and personal life.

As a university senior and a young 20-something professional, I don’t have children, pets or other family obligations. My worries center around my classes, projects, essays, personal life, internship, commuting keeping my apartment clean and cooking healthy meals. College holds enough stress; however, I’m already planning for the days in the next decade or so when I will have to balance career, family and life.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever experienced difficulty balancing your career and life? Did it become more difficult after marriage, children and other responsibilities? What advice do you offer to young women on this topic?

Unequal pay in Public Relations?

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

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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 pay-equity.org.

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?

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