The Major Issues In Workplace Sociology Essay Example
The Major Issues In Workplace Sociology Essay Example

The Major Issues In Workplace Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 15 (4019 words)
  • Published: August 21, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Gender has been a major concern in the workplace, particularly in the Public Relations field for the last twenty years. The role and transformation of gender have been shaped by the active participation of adult females. Regrettably, women have historically faced unfair treatment with limited opportunities for progression compared to men.

Historically, women in the Public Relations industry have been confined to technical roles like writing due to societal perceptions. Women were considered to possess feminist attributes such as sensitivity and cooperation, which made them suitable for handling technical tasks. In contrast, men were viewed as more fitting for management positions as they faced fewer concerns. Unlike women, men did not need to juggle family and career responsibilities, enabling them to concentrate entirely on their work. Furthermore, women encountered obstacles like sexual harassment, discrimination, the glass ceiling, intrusion, a


nd barriers to socialization.

Women in the Public Relations industry face barriers that impede their career progression. To overcome these challenges, they must exert more effort and compete with men and others to secure promotions. Additionally, women often find themselves undermining fellow female colleagues in order to advance. This study aims to analyze the various problems and obstacles encountered by women within this profession.

Furthermore, the purpose of this survey was to obtain an understanding of the gender dynamics and transformations that have transpired in the field of Public Relations due to women joining it.


Gabe once said, "Men decided a few centuries ago that any occupation they found repulsive was women's work." It is undeniably unjust to consistently perceive women as occupying lower positions in the labor force. In recent decades, women have taken over the public relations industry, comprisin

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70% of its workforce (Janus; Dr. Maria Len-Rios, 2008).

Male employees, particularly those in major agencies, primarily held top leadership positions such as managerial roles, while women were not given equal opportunities. In the field of public relations, analyzing trends, predicting outcomes, advising administration leaders, and implementing strategic action plans that benefit both the organization and the public are essential (Shetty, 2012). Gender has always been a central focus since women entered the workforce in this century. It refers to society's expectations regarding qualities and behavior exhibited by males and females (Shetty, 2012). Women in public relations have had extended professional opportunities to work in a fast-paced business environment, travel internationally, and earn high salaries (Janus; Dr. Maria Len-Rios., 2008). However when it comes to management roles,women will never be on an equal level with men.

Despite the increasing number of women in public relations, their roles remain restricted. According to Janus and Dr. Maria Len-Rios (2008), if women were to hold managerial positions in public relations, it would undermine the prestige of management. However, the presence of women has led to changes in gender perspectives within the field. Are men still seen as the sole breadwinners today? Should women be recognized as equals to men in managerial positions?

Operational Definition

Glass ceiling
As stated by Cotter (2001), the glass ceiling refers to a specific type of inequality based on gender or race that differs from other forms of inequality.The glass ceiling is an unbreakable barrier that prevents women or minorities from advancing in their careers, regardless of their qualifications or accomplishments (Cotter, Hermsen, Ovadia & Vanneman, 2001). This obstacle also affects minorities. Essentially, the glass ceiling symbolizes gender and

race inequality by hindering women's progress to higher positions solely based on their gender (Feminist Majority Foundation, 2012).


Invasion refers to the appointment of individuals without expertise in public relations to handle public relations functions like management (Heath, 2005). It is a significant concern for professionals and academics alike, particularly for women, when someone lacking training or experience in public relations and corporate communication is appointed to a top PR position by top management.

According to Heath (2005), invasion can result in occupation insecurity and there are three types of invasion: authorization, functional, and structural. Authorization encroachment occurs when incorrect forces are assigned to the public relations department or unit. Functional invasion refers to the inclusion of other sections into the initial tasks of the Public Relations functions. On the other hand, structural invasion is when the Public Relations function is subordinate to other units within the organizational hierarchy (Heath, 2005).

Community is essential in improving work-life effectiveness by establishing organizational policies and plans that enable employees to fully devote their efforts to achieving success in both internal and external workplace environments (Worldatwork, 2011). Work-life effectiveness refers to the ability to effectively balance one's personal and professional lives. To address the challenges faced by employees in both their personal and work lives, a strategic plan known as the work life portfolio is implemented (Worldatwork, 2011). This work-life portfolio consists of the organization's overall rewards and benefits package (Worldatwork, 2011).

The work-life portfolio includes seven classes: Caring for Dependants, Health and Wellness, Workplace Flexibility, Fiscal Support for Economic Security, Paid and Unpaid Time Off, Arousing Management Buy-In and Transforming Organizational Culture, and Community Involvement. According to Worldatwork (2011), this initiative

aims to stimulate employee participation, promote employee retention, and enhance productivity in both internal and external environments to improve their overall quality of life.


Practices of Public Relations from a gender perspective and changes resulting from women entering the field

Bates (2006) states that Public Relations underwent significant modernization in the 20th century, particularly in the United States, as it became a professional enterprise. As society advanced, Public Relations expanded its role beyond philosophical and practical functions to include persuasion, information dissemination, propaganda tools, and more (Bates, 2006). In today's era, argumentation and discussion also play crucial roles in fostering consensus within society within the field of Public Relations. Furthermore, formal writing has been introduced to shape the Public Relations function into a more structured approach.

According to Bates (2006), Public Relations experienced gradual growth and became a fully professional field in the 1930s, 1940s, and in the year 1948 when the Public Relations Society of America was established. In the 1980s and 1990s, gender equality emerged as a prominent topic. The profession evolved from being predominantly male to embracing diversity in terms of ethnicity and gender. Women began receiving equal priority as men, with both groups obtaining similar levels of education, knowledge, and skills (Bates, 2006). Looking back at the history of Public Relations, its pioneers were primarily men such as Ivy Ledbetter Lee and Edward L.

Bernays’ influence has led to the perception that men are better suited for high-level positions in the field of Public Relations, such as managing campaigns, rather than technical roles. The discrimination against women in this field is disheartening. Charlotte Klein, a lecturer at Boston University and Pace College, was interviewed about

her personal experiences as a female in Public Relations.

During the interview, it was emphasized that adult females are often placed in lower positions by corporations because they perceive that adult males have a family to support and therefore demand higher salaries (Martinelli & Toth, 2006). This low position for women is also attributed to the belief that once they have children, they are likely to withdraw from their careers. Additionally, according to Toth's (2006) study, Charlotte Klein, one of the female founders in her group, was advised by another woman to find a male partner in order to achieve success. This cautionary advice resurfaced for her later on in a large Japanese company.

This has clearly demonstrated that the perception of society is that successful accomplishments can only be achieved with the assistance of men. However, Public Relations has undergone a transformation from being a male-dominated field to becoming female-dominated in the past two decades (Grunig, Toth, & Hon, 2001). Presently, Public Relations is becoming more focused on gender equality by placing women in equal positions alongside men.

Organizations and Their Views of Women

The theory of structural determiners explains the behavior of male professionals and women in positions of power. Studies have shown that women tend to be more caring towards others and possess excellent interpersonal skills (Wrigley & Brenda, 2009). It is not inherent for female managers to display hostility towards their female colleagues.

The observation within an organizational culture likely leads to the acquisition of their behavior. Despite this, women are the ones who are more influenced by the unchanged sexist culture in the field of Public Relations. Consequently, the emphasis on male value in

the industry has resulted in the devaluation of women (Wrigley & Brenda, 2009).

There is a focus on masculine traits for female directors, causing them to adopt male identities in order to succeed. However, studies have shown that leadership behavior differences can be explained by psychological gender, which is influenced by environmental factors (Wrigley & Brenda, 2009). Research also indicates that women tend to prefer assertive behavior because they associate it with successful management and leadership (Wrigley & Brenda, 2009). Therefore, a successful director typically exhibits masculine traits while feeling the need to reject their femininity for promotion.

In addition, a woman who behaves in a manner that resembles the dominant sex and proves that she does not deserve a female's status is given a title called "Third Gender" (Wrigley & Brenda, 2009). For women who adopt masculine characteristics, they must turn away from other women in order to maintain their authority or power. Women in management are essentially facing role conflict, also known as a double-bind (Wrigley & Brenda, 2009). Women in management are essentially faced with a dilemma of whether to act according to the male-defined role or according to culturally defined traits of a woman.

If women attempt to display feminine traits, they are likely to face rejection as suitable directors. Conversely, if they adopt masculine behavior, they will be criticized for lacking femininity. In order to compete, women must exhibit assertiveness and confidence. However, doing so deviates from societal and organizational expectations. It is at this point that the Queen Bee Syndrome emerges as a survival mechanism.

The Queen Bee Syndrome refers to a leadership style characterized by power, influence, and control. This term is

often used to depict female stereotypes who discriminate against their fellow female colleagues in order to secure a promotion or preserve their existing position (Dr Frank Czarny, 2009).

According to Dr. Frank Czarny (2009), the concept of Queen Bee syndrome pertains to instances of discrimination between women in the workplace. This type of behavior often leads to conflicts within organizations. Women in positions of power who exhibit Queen Bee Syndrome employ dishonest tactics such as lying, plotting, and undermining others with the aim of advancing their own careers, maintaining power, and asserting dominance (Dr. Frank Czarny, 2009). For example, Queen Bee syndrome can be observed in female managers who refuse to hire pregnant women or allow them to return to work. In the Public Relations industry, the presence of Queen Bee syndrome poses a challenge for women.

According to Katie (2011), women often encounter superiors who exhibit the Queen Bee syndrome, characterized by self-centeredness and a reluctance to mentor their female subordinates. One participant in Katie's study shared her personal experience of being undermined by another female colleague who sought to secure a managerial role. This behavior is seen in both men and women but is more prevalent among women due to limited promotion prospects compared to men. Consequently, some women resort to employing this "Queen Bee" tactic as a means of distinguishing themselves and advancing in their careers.

Gender Discrimination and Gender Segregation

According to Prof. Dr. Romy Froehlich, Public Relation is still predominantly a male profession. In order for women to succeed in this field, they are encouraged to adopt male characteristics. For a long time, CEOs and high-ranking managers have been

seen as heroic figures representing corporate masculinity, and these traits continue to be respected and perpetuated (International Labour Office-GENEVA, 2004). Sadly, the labeling and discrimination of women has not yet disappeared.

Due to gender bias, women face the challenge of being seen as competent and respected in their careers. They often find themselves limited to lower-level managerial roles while men occupy higher positions. This norm creates invisibility for women among both male and female colleagues and clients. Consequently, women must exert extra effort not only to prove their worth but also to conform to male working styles and attitudes.

Furthermore, adult women are frequently left out of the workplace's informal networks overseen by men, which are crucial for their career advancement. It is important to note that women tend to be clustered in professions traditionally held by females such as nursing and teaching (International Labour Office-GENEVA, 2004). Moreover, women who adhere to feminist values such as sensitivity, care, honesty, fairness, and morality are often seen as lacking assertiveness and leadership skills (Prof. Dr. Romy Froehlich, 2004).

Gender segregation and favoritism in the Public Relations industry primarily affect adult females. Due to misperceptions about their suitability for feminine occupations like nursing or teaching, they often struggle to attain higher positions that require more masculine traits. This results in a salary discrepancy between males and females in the industry.

In the Public Relations industry, adult females are frequently assigned technician roles, while males are predominantly placed in management roles. Even if males initially start in technician positions, they ultimately transition into managerial roles. Male practitioners find job satisfaction in managerial positions, as they can contribute to decision-making processes. On the other

hand, male practitioners rarely choose technician roles because the job satisfaction they experience is lower compared to those who opt for managerial positions (Dozier & Broom, 1995).

Adult females often choose technician roles initially because they offer more flexibility with their time. This is important as they also have responsibilities to care for their families. Managerial roles typically have higher pay rates because of their professionalism and higher job satisfaction. On the other hand, technician roles are usually paid less because they do not involve making decisions for the organization and therefore carry less risk.

Although the income for women in technician roles tends to be lower, there is more flexibility in terms of time, resulting in higher job satisfaction. In 1979, women only earned 62 cents for every dollar earned by men. This percentage increased to 81 cents in 2005 and 2006. CNN reported on the White House's study, which revealed that women only earn 75% as much as their male counterparts (Jansen, 2011). Despite the narrowing gender pay gap, there is still a significant salary disparity between men and women.

It has become a failure in addressing the issue of gender income inequality by widening the wage gap between men and women in the past five years. Public Relations has always recognized this larger social problem. Confirming that the majority of people working in Public Relations are women, PR Daily's sister site has reported that 73 percent of the 21000 members of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) are female (Sebastian, 2011). Despite the gradual increase in the number of women surpassing men, women still earn less than men on average. Undoubtedly, the income disparity continues

to be a problem for the Public Relations profession.

According to the 2010 Work, Life and Gender Survey conducted by the Public Relations Society of America, it was found that men in the workforce earn an average of $98,188.82 per year, which is $30,000 more than women who earn an average of $67,853.08 (Sha, 2011). This gender wage gap is also noticeable in the Public Relations industry in the UK, where the average salary for men is ?62,932 and for women is ?39,987, indicating a significant disparity between genders (Bussey, 2011).

The salary disagreement in the Public Relations industry is argued to be due to a higher number of senior positions held by men compared to women. However, there is still a significant salary gap between men and women. For example, male press officers earn an average of ?32,843 compared to ?27,351 for their female counterparts (Bussey, 2011). Leigh Daynes, the communications manager at charity Plan UK, has previously reported that full-time women workers are paid on average 15.5% less per hour than men. This clearly demonstrates the presence of salary discrimination in the Public Relations industry, which is particularly unfair to the hardworking women who contribute to the industry.

Sexual Harassment is a violation of human rights, as defined by the Supreme Court. It includes any unwanted sexually oriented behavior, including demands for sexual favors, showing pornography, and any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal sexual behavior (Chaudhuri, 2006). Categories of sexual harassment include verbal harassment, psychological harassment, sexual gestures and exposure, and unwanted touch or more serious offenses such as rape, attempted rape, or forced sex. Verbal harassment involves using sexual language or making humiliating comments

of a sexual nature (Chaudhuri, 2006).

Psychological torment is a type of behavior that induces extreme mental distress in adult females. This can include persistently accompanying or stalking a woman, gazing at her chest, or sending offensive text messages. On the other hand, sexual gestures and exhibitionism involve exposing one's genitals, being naked, or masturbating in front of her. Unwanted touch involves inappropriate touching of a woman's chest or other parts of her body, as well as unwelcome hugs (Chaudhuri, 2006).

Rape is a form of sexual torment where the perpetrator forcefully engages in sexual intercourse with a person without consent, which is inappropriate. Many women, particularly those working in technical roles in the Public Relations industry, desire to be promoted to higher positions. Consequently, some choose to remain silent when faced with sexual harassment at work due to fears of being fired, losing income, and missing out on promotions. Additionally, women are concerned that reporting the harassment will damage their reputation, which is crucial in the field of Public Relations. Moreover, women are unsure and hesitant to speak up even when harassed by their superiors because they fear receiving negative evaluations from them.

The workplace has become a breeding ground for sexual harassment, with those in positions of authority often acting as perpetrators while adult females or those in lower-level positions are the most common victims. This abuse of power has highlighted the pressing issue of sexual harassment in the workplace today. Unfortunately, it is those who have the least power that are the most susceptible to various forms of torment.

Theory Applied-Feminist Theory

Feminism promotes equality between genders. In the field of

Public Relations, feminist theory is easily observed. It simply refers to the movement toward granting women equal rights and opportunities in decision making and expressing their opinions (Julie, Stacey & Hustb, 2005).

Various models have emerged in women's rights theory, including broad feminism, socialist feminism, extremist feminism, postmodern feminism, and multicultural or global feminism. Feminist theory argues that women are becoming more prominent in the field of Public Relations, as well as achieving higher positions and better pay. It also asserts that women will face similar challenges and requirements as men who advance in Public Relations. The goal of feminist theory is to emphasize the significance of women and promote gender equality (Julie, Stacey & Hustb, 2005).

According to Smith (2006), feminist theory also explains the position of women in society and emphasizes that historically women have been subordinate to men. In the field of public relations, women are important as they possess feminist values such as honesty, fairness, and sensitivity, which are beneficial to the field. By incorporating these feminist values, the models of symmetrical communication and bi-symmetrical communication in public relations can be enhanced, as these models require feminist values to address conflicts and build relationships. Feminist theory on public relations has previously argued that the profession is inherently feminine in nature due to its purposes, performance, and characteristics (Julie, Stacey & Hustb, 2005).

Although men are better negotiators, women are better at achieving results. In 2001, the number of female practitioners in the Public Relations field surpassed male practitioners, leading to a feminization of the industry. Since the early 1980s, there has been a continuous increase in women entering the Public Relations field, striving for

greater professional recognition. This increase was first highlighted in the mid-1980s with the publication of The Velvet Ghetto (Smith, 2006), which served as a benchmark study.

According to Jacqueline (2008), this study found that public relations is becoming a more female-dominated field, with women often being assigned low-level roles. The study also examined how the public perceives a field dominated by women, suggesting that this could prevent the profession from attaining professional status and may even result in a loss of prestige (Jacqueline, 2008). Larissa Grunig argues that public relations is not truly dominated by women, but rather has a high concentration of women numerically, without them having control over the industry (Smith, 2006). The entrance of women into public relations has brought about qualities such as collaboration, audience sensitivity, and improved two-way communication, which have made the industry more expert and professional. On the other hand, women are drawn to enter the public relations industry due to their desire to write and their attraction to the creative aspects of the field (Smith, 2006).

Other Challenges Faced by Women in Public Relations

According to Berger (2005), public relations professionals increase their influence through logical argument, collaboration with colleagues, and past experience. Additionally, they must maintain strong relationships with top management or decision-making stakeholders. Grunig (1992) has previously emphasized that public relations professionals exert power by working together as a group, rather than as individuals.

Socialization Barriers

Socialization barriers refer to obstacles encountered in social activities. Socialization is important for enhancing relationships among individuals and creating a harmonious society by promoting better understanding among people (Crossman, 2012). As humans, we have

learned how to socialize and interact with others from the day we were born.

Before our birth, communication has been present. This is evident during a woman's pregnancy. The woman is influenced by her surroundings and society in making choices for her baby, whether it's a boy or a girl. For instance, if she is expecting a boy, she may seek out items that are blue in color, as blue is considered masculine by society (Crossman, 2012). The same applies to socialization.

The female population is traditionally taught to behave in a calm and polite manner, often speaking softly and seeking assistance when necessary. Conversely, males are taught to be more active, courteous, and independent. These customs are predominant in Eastern societies. Socialization experiences play a significant role in creating barriers for adult women. According to Etzkowitz (1994), these experiences contribute to the difficulties faced by females in integrating into society. Schools actively encourage girls to excel academically and diligently complete their assigned tasks.

However, the workforce is expected to be more autonomous and competitive. The socialization barrier is more prevalent among females, who are expected to complete their tasks perfectly and be less ambitious (Etzkowitz, 1994). Additionally, they are expected to only be part of groups with girls and not boys. In Eastern culture, girls who socialize primarily with boys are often perceived as flirtatious or promiscuous, using negative terms to describe them. Undoubtedly, there is a socialization barrier when women are restricted from integrating well into male-dominated groups. For example, in the Public Relations industry, women are rarely placed in top management positions as they are discouraged from forming strong relationships with men.

Adult females in technician

roles were prevented from being promoted, which led to a lack of upward mobility. Additionally, women face challenges in balancing their work and personal lives. This results in less time for social activities, which are crucial in the Public Relations industry to establish credibility and understanding between clients and companies. Activities like meals, sports, and sharing experiences contribute to the enhancement of relationships.

However, adult females are less likely to participate in off-office social activities as they must consider their family responsibilities. Society has ingrained the belief that men are inherently responsible for their families by working and providing financial support. On the other hand, women are stereotypically viewed as caretakers or homemakers who should prioritize their families over their careers. These traditional perceptions have become cultural norms. It is unfair, especially when conservative companies have biased beliefs and believe that only male employees are suitable for managerial roles for the sake of socialization.

Work-life efficiency: When it comes to achieving goals successfully, establishing a positive connection between Public Relations and its stakeholders is key. Additionally, having positive relationship indicators may enhance the reputation of the Publ.

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