Taylor's FSLM Journals
Adopting masculine traits to get ahead – An exploratory study of Malaysian female & male public relations practitioners’ job role & organisational position disparities

@ SEARCH Journal of Media and Communication Research

Online ISSN: 2672-7080

Chuan Tek Pheung


This study explores the disparities in the job-role enactments and promotion opportunities of Malaysian female and male public relations practitioners, and the adoption of masculine traits by female practitioners to counter the male-biased and masculine-centric organisational glass ceiling. The significant contrast of a female majority PR industry and a mainly male-monopolised management trend has been evidenced by researchers for years. Positively studies conducted in recent years have given new hopes to female practitioners, who are increasingly being promoted to lead PR departments, thus the glass ceiling was seemingly broken. This study, based on the feminist theory framework, examines job-roles and organisational positioning disparities from the perspective of gender-traits (feminine and masculine), in contrast with previous research that mainly focused on biological-sex differences (female and male). The qualitative data for this study comes from semi-structured interviews and open-ended questions with nine female and three male practitioners. The findings highlight that PR departments are mainly led by female practitioners, who enjoy equal advancement opportunities as their male colleagues. Results also show the successful organisational positioning of female practitioners who adopted masculine traits; however, organisational top management circles remain a male-majority domain. In addition, male PR practitioners have stronger influences among organisational higher-ups, while their female counterparts are burdened by family-versus-work commitments.

Keywords: public relations, job roles, gender traits, feminist theory, organisational position disparities