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Diversifying gender equity in leadership in public relations: the role of mentoring and instrumental support at the organizational level

Juan Meng (Department of Advertising and Public Relations, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)
Marlene S. Neill (Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media, Baylor University College of Arts and Sciences, Waco, Texas, USA)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 21 December 2022

Issue publication date: 3 January 2023




The rise of a professional career presents women in today's public relations profession an intense challenge in balancing professional and family responsibilities. Therefore, this study is motivated to investigate female public relations professionals' perceptions of work–family conflict in their daily life. Specifically, the authors focused the research on women working in the professions of communication and public relations in the United States.


An online survey was designed and conducted in the United States. The final sample includes 512 women working full-time in public relations and communication. In addition, the authors pre-specified several demographic quotas in sampling design in order to recruit a diverse group of female professionals nationwide.


The findings of this research study confirmed that female professionals have to constantly make changes to their plans for family activities when there is a conflict due to work-related duties. Such impact is particularly intense for professionals in the age bracket of 31–40. They have to use a wide variety of coping strategies to manage the work–family conflict. Findings in the present research study confirmed the critical role of mentoring in providing extra support and to help junior female professionals find coping solutions. Effective mentor–mentee networks can be established and used as valuable resources to support women in managing work–family conflict.


By investigating current female professionals' perceptions on work–life conflict and their adoption of relevant coping strategies in the workplace, this research provides solid evidence that organizations should dedicate efforts in providing strong support in programs and policies and makes the options available to female professionals at all levels. The present research highlights the importance of building mentor–mentee relationships as an effective supportive approach when managing work–family conflict.



The authors would like to thank the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication and the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations to jointly fund this research project.


Meng, J. and Neill, M.S. (2023), "Diversifying gender equity in leadership in public relations: the role of mentoring and instrumental support at the organizational level", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 155-168.



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