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Rants N Raves: Where are the women in the conversation?

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Today’s rant is from my friend, Valerie Simon. Keep in mind, this was a completely unsolicited guest post. But, given the conversation, comments and tweets from Friday’s post titled “7 most intriguing people in PR in 2010”, I thought it was warranted because clearly, there is a bigger issue at hand here. If you have time today, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. And, I know Valerie would, too. Oh, and for the record, I have my own follow-up post coming tomorrow. Stay tuned.

They are on the Communications Conversation blog roll ( Amy Mengel, Heather Whaling, Shonali Burke, Valerie Maltoni, Connie Bensen, Lauren Fernandez, Rachel Kay and Shannon Paul). They are included among Arik’s picks for The Next 20 A Listers (8 women). But no, there was not a single woman on Arik’s recent list of the 7 most intriguing people in PR in 2010. For the record, there was no one outside of the U.S. on his list, and there was little in the way of racial diversity. And while I would be hard pressed to argue the “intrigue factor” of those listed, should the list have been more representative of the demographic makeup of the public relations industry (particularly since the PR industry is dominated by women)? According to the whirlwind of comments and tweets I saw, the lack of women was a serious faux pas.

It’s important to support and recognize the women who are leaders in the field of public relations;  I loved the series on Powerful Women in PR written for the Council of Public Relations and the Wonder Gals of Web 2.0 by Deni Kasrel, and have found tremendous value in groups such as Washington Women in Public Relations. But I think it is also okay to share a list that happens to include 7 men. Maybe it would have been better received had it been called 7 intriguing people in PR, rather than the 7 most intriguing people in PR.

“Top 10” (or in this case 7) lists are popular posts for blogs. But they are limiting and by including some, you exclude others. At times I have shied away from creating such lists for fear of offending those who would inevitably be left out. But that seems a shame doesn’t it? While I do think that there is a valid point in that there are a myriad of intriguing women in the world of PR who could have easily made this list, there are also many intriguing men that were left off.

Personally, I liked Arik’s list; 7 very intriguing people that I can learn from in 2010. Yes, they happened to be male. I commented with a few who intrigue me, 2 of whom happen to be female.   I hope that you take Arik’s final line as a call to action and share, “Who intrigues you in 2010?” by leaving a comment with the PERSON (regardless of gender) you find intriguing.

But before you go, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Was Arik wrong to neglect to include any women in his list of most intriguing PR people for 2010? Do bloggers need to consider demographic factors before posting a “Top 10” list? And was the fact that Arik did not include any women in his initial list an egregious oversight, or simply an indication that gender was irrelevant to the consideration? Is gender relevant to every conversation? Bring it on… Let’s make this a community rant and perhaps we can all learn a little something in the process.

ValerieSimonValerie Merahn Simon serves as a Senior Vice President at BurrellesLuce media monitoring and measurement, and writes a national public relations column for examiner.com. She is also co-founder and host of #PRStudChat, the monthly twitter chat between PR professionals and students moderated by Deirdre Breakenridge. Valerie can be found on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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Rants N Raves: Where are the women in the conversation?

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