By Sarah Bradnum on 8 March 2019
Journalista’s bid to stop industry body mansplaining public relations – IWD special
This International Women’s Day, we’re not just writing women’s progress-flavoured content, we’ve taken it a step further and defied the defaults – making it a bit uncomfortable for some.
We challenged our industry body, the PRCA, to examine unchecked gender bias after I discovered (upon signing up to a course) that only one of the 41 PR and communications books it recommends as part of its Advanced PR Diploma training course features a female co-author.
The omission of some the industry’s top writers is in stark contrast to the PRCA’s pledge last year to root out inequality.
Our new list, which we crowdsourced on Twitter via a #PRSheroes campaign, is available here. It names 26 professional PR female authors so far across many of the same categories as the PRCA’s of Public Relations, Consultancy; Behaviours and Performance; The Media; and Media Writing, alongside new categories of Thought Leadership, Ethics and Strategy.
Our female-only list includes Anne Gregory’s classic Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns, which has so far been published in four editions, alongside #FuturePRoof by Sarah Hall, which is in its third edition. Both were omitted from the PRCA’s list.
Speaking about the #PRSheroes campaign, CEO and founder of Journalista Holly Sutton said:
“In an industry where women make up nearly two-thirds of the workforce (PRCA Annual Report, 2018), this list of all male authors is mansplaining PR to our industry.
“We believe that organisations taking a lead on driving equality need to be cognisant of unconscious biases within their own businesses and train staff to recognise where these might influence their decisions – helping them spot areas where balance is so important in their everyday work.
“By shining a spotlight on the PR ‘Sheroes’ who deserve to be recognised by the PRCA and its members, we’re defying the default position of accepting that the voice of authority is always male.”
The omission of what many people on Twitter called ‘seminal’ and ‘classic’ text books authored by women was met with disbelief.
Communications Training Director Helen Reynolds exclaimed:
“What the….?! The first one I can think of is Anne Gregory’s Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns, which is a classic and essential #comms reading”
Meanwhile, Goldsmiths Lecturer Dr. Clea Bourne noted that this was a:
“…great opportunity for Routledge, SAGE Publishing, Palgrave Macmillan, etc. to make great PR books by women more affordable, especially to mark International Women’s Day.”
In a post #MeToo and #TimesUp world, our #PRSheroes list continues the trend of sharing stories and amplifying women’s voices. #PRSheroes also follows in the footsteps of similar campaigns to diversify institutional reading lists, including Project Myopia, LiberatEd, and Why is My Curriculum White? that have helped to make academia more inclusive. Like Project Myopia, we recognise that a more diverse curriculum benefits not only those who have been historically marginalised, but everyone.
However, there’s still a great deal of work to be done. We recognise that the diversity of this new list is unrepresentative of people of colour, members of the LBGTQI+ community, and those who identify as having a disability. For this reason, the list will be made available and open for anyone to add to, in the hopes of building a truly diverse collection of reading materials as it grows.