Women in Public Relations in Portugal

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Creative Media and Communications Research Ltd. & EUPRERA

This report provides an insight into the position of women in Public Relations in Portugal. Our research's main aims were: 1) understanding lived experiences, main challenges, and opportunities for women in PR; 2) exploring PR women's perspectives and preferences on work environment and office culture; 3) understanding socialization and leadership, concerning the engagement of Portuguese women in PR in different communication and leadership styles. To achieve these goals a qualitative method was applied, using semi-structured interviews with women working in the public relations industry (communication agencies or in-house departments) in Portugal. A total of 19 women were interviewed by telephone and email; among interviewees eight were in leadership positions, being communication managers from middle or top management. Interviews were conducted between March and July 2020. Following the framework of Topić (2020), the interview script was built on three sections that examined the (a) lived experiences of women in public relations regarding their career advancement process, work-life balance, and differential treatment and behavior based on gender; (b) the office culture in terms of employee discussions, jokes made by colleagues, and inclusion in decision-making process; and (c) leadership perceptions. Results show that age and experience matter, in the sense that older women in medium leadership positions feel more constraints in career progression for being women and have a more masculine profile in communication and leadership styles, whereas younger, less experienced persons - and the oldest in leadership positions - perceive more gender equality on PR career path between men and women, both on Internal performance and on career development. Interestingly, women under 30 consider age (youth) more discriminating than gender. On the other hand, interviewed women agreed on the importance of networking for PR career development and that, generally, they do not perceive companies privileging males over females for work or leadership. Conversely, the fact that they state working more than 8 hours per day and weekends, not all being paid for this, together with a consciousness of being difficult to have families in this profession, unless they have a support system, reveal transversal gender equality issues related to work-life balance very important in Public Relations industries in Portugal. Furthermore, although some women seem not to understand the differences between female and male leadership, the majority believe they have more feminine leadership characteristics.

Cruz, C., Anunciacao, F., Belim, C., & Cunha, M. J. (2023). Women in Public Relations in Portugal. EUPRERA Report Vol 4., No. 2., Topić, M. (ed). Leeds/Brussels: Creative Media and Communications Research Ltd. & EUPRERA. ISSN 2633-2353