Last man standing


This is an article by Andrew Davies.
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Many men out there may think that studying a course with a female to male ratio of 11:1 would be a blessing.

In fact, I have a number of friends that are extremely jealous of me knowing how much time I get to spend with this many girls. I’ll say for the record though it has nothing to do with my dashing good looks. But why are there so few men studying in the final year of BA (Hons) Public Relations at Leeds Metropolitan, and what is life like studying on a course with such a drastic imbalance of men to women?

PR man and his colleagues

I am always amazed by the startling fact that there are only five male students remaining on my course. Over the last four years a few male friends have left the course for various reasons. Some losing their love for PR as early as the end of the first year of study, one was even offered a full time position after a successful year’s placement.

For whatever reason they chose, I can remember three close male friends leaving the course before graduation. Thinking of it, I am the only male member of my original tutor group who remains on the course.

The number of females on my course has never been something that bothered me too much. I’ve managed to find love amongst my course at Leeds Metropolitan so for me to complain would be an outrage.  But on a serious note, I personally do not feel threatened by the amount of women on the course. In most cases I find it a great opportunity to understand more about the female perspective on PR.

Surely the idea of feeling threatened by the number of women on the course is ludicrous; after all it takes two to tango. Imagine trying to develop PR campaigns for women, after spending four years on a 100% male course. You might end up marketing products fronted by Andy Gray and Richard Keys.

As I continue to ponder the male to female imbalance, I find it hard to create any real negatives. If anything I can only think of more positives and also about the job market when applying for positions after university.

If the Leeds Metropolitan PR course has such a significant male to female split, would this make my CV stand out from the rest based on gender alone? Working on the ratio at Leeds Metropolitan, for every 20 CVs or applications handed in for any given position, only one of those would be from a male applicant.

To get a better perspective I asked James Hall – one of few male PR students in the final year – his views on the seemingly female-dominated course.

“Being one of the very few guys on the PR course has never really bothered me that much. I personally think in PR, men and women seem to have similar or even the same ideas and opinions, gender doesn’t really seem to change anything.

“In an industry that is apparently dominated by men at senior levels, it’s strange that our course is dominated by women. When I was applying for internships for my placement year, one of the agencies where I had an interview was run by women, and only had female staff. One of the questions they asked in the interview was ‘how do you feel working with just a bunch of females?’ They were really shocked when I told them that there are only five guys on my course and we rarely get the opportunity to work together.

“During my placement at The Walt Disney Company my VP and the senior management in the Disney Channel Press Office were female. However, the Corporate Communications senior team were predominantly male, mirroring what you read about in industry magazines about males dominating senior roles. I personally think in ten years it will be women who will be dominating these senior roles, judging by how many females are studying PR compared to males.”

I can’t argue against James’s comments. If the Leeds Metropolitan PR course is anything to go by then, without doubt, women will soon dominate the PR profession. The best thing is; I couldn’t care less.

I chose to study public relations because of the work it involves, a course which allows me to develop my passion for writing and creative thinking. I feel there are many men and women out there who share my passion, but due to the large number of women on the course many males see it as ‘a bit of a girly thing to do’.

If more males knew exactly what it entails – that PR is not simply wining and dining clients – I believe the split would be more like 50/50. I can’t see it changing, but that’s fine with me.

Comments

  1. Interestingly if you look at the younger years there are far high numbers of male PR students.. suggesting that perceptions of PR are changing rapidly and already changing the male intake.

  2. I’ll work out the percentage of men to women in my first year lecture on Thursday. Will still be overwhelmingly female.

    But there’s a general trend here, not just one specific to public relations. Women make the majority of university students and most medical students are female too (by a large margin).

    Logically, in just a few years women will be out-earning men (though the numbers will be counterbalanced by a few typically male over-achievers in the world of sport, business etc).

  3. Richard, I’m glad this subject seems to be topical (not just here) at the moment, because I wrote the definitive guide to why more women than me “do”PR. Of course, you would have referred your students to my PhD thesis. Just in case you’ve lost the link, here it is: http://people.aapt.net.au/~net/ And you can buy it on Amazon. Those German publishers will print anything. Ref: The Feminisation of Public Relations, ISBN 978-3-639-16475-6. I wish you few males students well. And the females, too.

  4. I’m a first year PR and Marketing student at Leeds Met and there were only 5 males on my course at the start of the year.

    It does seem perculiar, but refreshing to see such a lucrative and growing industry not being dominated by the Y chromosome for a change!

  5. I found this a brilliant article. I am a second year PR student and im with Andrew, I couldnt care less about the ammount of females on the course. It makes such a change to get a female perspective whilst in University as apposed to my predominately male friends at home. As Andrew pointed out, if courses where dominated by males we could all end up like Gray and Keys.

  6. Great point made by Richard regarding the few typically male sports star who earn a ridiculous amount of money.

    I’d like to see an overall ratio of male/female students at universities across the UK and see if there is any substantial imbalance.

    I can’t believe there are only five male students on first year PR. It seems my prediction may be correct.

  7. Greg Smith says:

    For those who don’t want to read the entire thesis, basically it said, yes Andrew, men believe PR is a “girlie thing to do”, but in an academic way. It also said the best person should do the job (just so I don’t get any feminists off side). So if you like the company of women and can handle their sometimes, somewhat erratic behaviour (yesterday our female Manager of Corporate Comms was dismissed after 8 years due to a “personality clash with a female Director) … not to mention everyone else being an expert (until they have to do it), then go for it. Me? I’ve just started on the second of two courses to become a personal trainer.

  8. My PR course has around 25 females and 2 guys other than me. After being on a journalism course with a 50 / 50 split, it was a bit of a shock for the first few days.

    In two years though, there’s been very few times when I’ve even thought about it. One assigment in our second year revolved around women working in the banking industry which lead to several lessons that were essentially a lot of “girls can be succesful, too!” stuff that I didn’t think was really needed and made me feel a little awkward – especially when you get questions like “Hey, you’re a GUY, what do YOU think about…?”

    I guess my opinion is that you can respect differences without overanalsying. A woman can do PR just as well as me, and I can do PR just as well as a woman. I guess I don’t see any need to worry about gender differences any further than that, though I’m sure feminists would disagree. Maybe I’m just bitter from writing a 4,000 word essay on girl power.

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