Mum’s face looked worried when she saw the university acceptance letter I gave her. Her forehead marred with frown from thinking deeply, her eyes stealing glances at me. “Are you sure you want to enrolled in PR? Isn’t it a woman world? Will you be able to get a job later on?” she grills the questions to me. So that’s what she’s worried about. Slowly I explain to her about the plan I have and after a long persuasion, she finally accept my decision. Determination made, blessings received, and I departed from Bau-Bau, Sulawesi to Jakarta.
Four years has gone by, now I am a young PR practitioner in Jakarta. It is true, what my mum said, PR is identic to women, because in this industry I am surrounded by women. But then, is PR an industry filled with women and lack men?
From common perspective, I see PR as a job that relies on ‘beauty’ or good look and ethical wardrobe through various means. Personal appearance, lifestyle preference, and socializing balanced by the ability to tell a story, writing, creativity and strategic thinking, as well as building emotional connection with the client and other stakeholders becomes the skills needed to be an ideal PR.
Talking about ‘beauty’, then the feminine figure of a woman comes to mind because they’re superior in case of appearance, speaking, ease of building emotional connection with stakeholder and client, building network of communication and interaction. Because of that, women could easily be the ideal figure needed in PR.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with it, moreover with the spirit of emancipation, women’s are supported to take more control in various industry. Yet it would be naïve to say that PR is an industry for women. PR is one of the industries that really appreciates and even support gender equality by opening various opportunity for every gender to take part in this industry competitively based on their ability. Women representation is high in this industry and really showcases how this industry opens its door widely for everyone to take part in it.
In both public and private university, Communication Science is enthused by both man and woman with equal percentage. This shows that in the future, man and woman working as PR practitioner would be equal too.
From Corporate Communications, Government Relations, Investor Relations, Media Relations to Crisis Handling Communications all needed the analytic and strategic capability from the practitioner regardless of gender or other identity separators.
What we should be concerned about is utilizing the diversity offered by the industry by inviting the newcomers to showcase their competitiveness in fulfilling the demands in communication industry, which continue to increase and build their own network as wide as possible.
The fresh graduates, interns, even the university students and those about to enroll to university who choose communication as their preferred course of study and career in the future need to understand that PR industry is not as feminine as pictured by people. Because in the working world, personal competency is the thing that matters, far from gender issue. The question is, would they be able to compete in an industry, which only looks at competency and passion as the main measurement?