This summary is presented by IPR based on the original journal article in the Public Relations Journal
Dr. Linda Aldoory and colleagues explored how public relations professionals’ views of work/life balance differ based on gender.
Eight focus groups in four U.S. metropolitan areas (Washington, DC; New York, NY; Chicago, IL; and San Diego, CA) were conducted. A total of 50 public relations practitioners participated.
The authors conducted eight focus groups, finding that several factors impacted the perspectives, including discussions on several work-life challenges and strategies for attaining balance. In addition, practitioners expressed guilt and blame narratives.
Key findings include:
· Professionals said it is a challenge to find any time for themselves.
· Public relations as the site of struggle:
o The public relations industry as a whole was described as one that comes with unique balancing acts.
o “Balance cannot be achieved in the public relations profession.”
· Societal pressure and norms:
o Participants blamed society for creating constraints to their efforts at balancing work and life.
§ Several participants described their own organizations as flexible to their personal needs, they acknowledged that societal expectations and norms still created pressures on them.
o Men still feel the pressure in their organizations to be the “breadwinner,” reflected in how many hours men work per day.
§ “It’s almost this red badge of courage to say oh, I’m crazed and I’m working these many hours.”
· Struggle with separate yet fluid identities:
o Participants revealed a sense of separate yet fluid identities when they were doing work and when they were in personal or family spaces.
o A participant labeled himself as having a “split personality.” He described the challenge this caused: “I clearly wasn’t the same person at home that I was in the office. And when you start taking that persona home with you, and you find yourself being defensive like you were defending a client, instead of giving an honest answer for something really stupid, it caused a lot of problems.”
o Both men and women expressed stories of guilt.
o Women mostly reported feeling guilt over not having time for personal relationships or children, and men mostly reported feeling guilt when away from work.
In summary, both men and women found the public relations industry to be uniquely imposing on their personal lives, creating significant problems at home or within themselves, especially in terms of identity. Societal pressures and norms influence the work-life balance struggle that comes with a career in public relations, and organizations need to be open to strategies that support work-life balance for its employees.
Read the full study to learn more about men and women and public relations practitioners views of work/life balance.
Aldoory, L., Jiang, H., Toth, E. L., & Sha, B. (2008). Is It Still Just a Women’s Issue? A Study of Work-Life Balance Among Men and Women in Public Relations. Public Relations Journal,2, 1-20.