During Women’s History Month, it is important to highlight the many accomplishments women have made in public relations. As a woman myself, I understand the many hardships women face in the workforce; however, we wouldn’t be where we are today without the incredible women leaders from the past. In just these last few years, public relations has transitioned to an industry largely comprised of women. About 75% of public relations jobs are held by women. Listed below are just a few female idols in the public relations space. Each has their own expertise and influence on the public relations industry.
Ida Tarbell was an American writer and journalist back in the 1900s. She was one of the leading muckrakers of the progressive era and pioneered investigative journalism. She wrote a book called The History of the Standard Oil Company, in 1904. This work was considered the best investigative journalist piece during its’ time, and eventually, contributed to the dissolution of the standard oil monopoly. She also wrote an article, Women as Inventors, that showcased her views on women’s roles in society. She wrote about the many inventions that women have created. She perpetuated the idea that invention is a field where women have large possibilities. Tarbell was an active feminist in her writing. Overall, she was a huge contributor to the growth of women in PR.
Muriel Fox was an American public relations executive and feminist activist. Her main career was during the 1950s where she was hired as a publicist in Carl Byoir & Associates’ Radio-TV department. During her time working there, she was told she had “progressed as far as she could go because corporate CEOs can’t relate to women.” It wasn’t until the 1970s that she became executive vice president of the agency, proving them all wrong. During her lifetime, she co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) with a mission to help provide solutions to female discrimination in education, work force, and social security. Eleanor Roosevelt was head of the organization. In 1985, Fox was awarded the Distinguished Alumna Award from Barnard College and became the first recipient of New York State NOW’s leadership award. She has been a huge influence in the public relations world and proved that women do belong in PR.
Inez Kaiser was an American educator, public relations expert, and entrepeanour. She grew up in Kanas City, where at the time African Americans in the south were not allowed the opportunity to receive a higher education. However, she was determined to achieve just that. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Pittsburg State University in 1941 and later earned her master’s degree from Columbia University. In 1957, she founded Inez Kaiser & Associates, which was not only the first public relations firm to be led by an African American woman, but the first business to be owned by an African American in Kansas City. She continued to earn her name by writing articles in The Kansas City Star. Inez was an inspiration to women as well as the African American community.
These women have been such an inspiration to women working in the public relations world. The hardships they endured allowed for women today to be inspired to follow their footsteps. We are truly grateful for everything they have done.