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Women in public relations (1982–2019)

Martina Topić (Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Maria Joäo Cunha (School of Social and Political Sciences (ISCSP), University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal)
Amelia Reigstad (Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)
Alenka Jelen-Sanchez (University of Stirling, Stirling, UK)
Ángeles Moreno (Group of Advanced Studies in Communication, University Rey Juan Carlos, Fuenlabrada Madrid, Spain)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 6 April 2020

Issue publication date: 23 October 2020




This paper aims to analyse the current literature on women in public relations to establish trends and areas of inquiry in the literature and identify research gaps for future research.


A total of 223 articles have been empirically analysed using thematic analysis to identify trends in the existing literature. The data has been coded and analysed per decade (1982–1989, 1990–1999, 2000–2009, 2010–2019). The articles have been identified by searching major journals in the field of public relations and communications, as well as snowballing from identified articles.


The results show that the majority of academic articles have been produced by using lived experiences of women working in the public relations industry and thus reflect the professional situation of female public relations employees. The results show that the position of women has reached a full circle in four decades of research and returned to the discriminatory work environment. Finally, the results show that a liberal feminist perspective has an advantage in the literature since the majority of works have been produced in the United States; however, there is an increase in authors calling for the use of socialist and radical feminism.


The paper provides a comprehensive literature review of works published in the field. The paper takes an empirical approach to the analysis rather than the descriptive one, which helped in identifying major trends in the research and identified a research gap for future inquiries.



The first version of this paper has been presented at 10th International History of Public Relations Conference, Bournemouth University, July 2019. The authors would like to thank all participants in the panel for useful and constructive discussion and Gareth Thompson, Kevin Moloney and Donnalyn Pompper in particular. The paper has also been presented at the annual EUPRERA Congress (Zagreb, September 2019). The paper presents a much shorter and edited version of the report released as part of EUPRERA Women in Public Relations project (EUPRERA Report Vol. 1, No.1). Data has been collected by the authors of the paper, as well as by Mirela Polić; Belen Zurbano Berenguer; Beatrice Damian; Paloma Sanz; Cristina Fuentes Lara; Nataša Cesarec Salopek; Eugenie Saitta; Carla Cruz; Nataša Simeunović Bajić; Audra Diers Lawson; Hanne Vandenberghe; Leli Bibilashvili and Natia Kaladze.We did not receive funding for this research, however, the research has been carried out as part of EUPRERA project Women in Public Relations, project lead: Dr Martina Topić.


Topić, M., Cunha, M.J., Reigstad, A., Jelen-Sanchez, A. and Moreno, Á. (2020), "Women in public relations (1982–2019)", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 391-407.



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