Suffrage is Over but Women Still Suffer a Little in PR

It was like any other August afternoon, probably hot and muggy causing perspiration, irritability and the slight chance of partaking in an icy, cold adult beverage. However, in 1920, women experienced all of that, except wore multiple petticoats and burgeoning hairstyles under hats that would make some ladies in church today very envious.

There was something different about this early 20th century day in August because women were about to experience a first in American history just for them – the right to vote.

This month, 96 years ago, the 19th Amendment was adopted into law rewarding the courageous plight of reformers like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony. Together, they led a 70-year struggle of female citizens to exercise one of the things they had that their male counterparts had no different than them – a voice.

Suffrage Movement

Today, August is much different.

Although the heat can still make you consider road rage as a viable option for stress relief, clothes aren’t as frustrating and in many situations, women are leading the charge for much more than a picketing line leading to another line at the polling booth.

They lead businesses, movements, sports, and even governments. Their collective voice has created many things we use every week, like radioactive materials, Kevlarwindshield wipers, and even your morning cup of java. They are brilliant, accomplished, powerful, and dynamic. We see them in PR all the time, many of them are in leadership… and yet, women are still frequently paid less for that awe-inspiring voice than men.

One such voice PR pros are all familiar with is the one belonging to Ketchum’s U.S. president Barri Rafferty. Most of us know one of her ardent passions is closing the gender gap in PR. Despite the numbers like women representing 67 percent of the global PR industry, they are still paid on average 30 cents less for each dollar a male counterpart earns for using that same voice [1].

Barri told the team at Ketchum once about what women, as a whole, can do about filling those gaps and giving their voice more volume:

“The best advice I can give women who want to achieve a certain goal is to be clear with their leaders about their goal, work diligently toward the achieving it, and make the best business case for why they deserve it."

“In my experience, managing people for so many years, I have observed that women (not all, but most) need to share their ambitions more often, be more proactive to seek out or create advancement opportunities, and negotiate more on their own behalf. Also, it’s important to build networks and find allies; that includes mentors – both women and men – who can give you honest feedback and advice, and help you think through situations differently.”

Those same ambitions. That same drive. This same gap is what caused women of centuries past to reach for the unreachable and turn up the national volume that caused everyone to hear their voice. Women, some of which we call “friend,” “manager,” “colleague,” or even “boss” are still doing that today.

Here’s to hoping a bridge gets built soon for that cumbersome industry gap.

[1] PR Week 2015-2016 Salary Survey, The Holmes Report, Digiday