Women public relations practitioners in Indonesia are identical with stunning women with glamorous dresses and pretty smiles. Is it true? On the last decades, there has been a lot of research about public relations profession and its gender issues including Indonesia. On the study conducted by Simorangkir (2010 & 2011), public relations in Indonesia is often regarded as a female field. On that study, it stated that women and men also acquire certain characteristics when it comes to being a leader or a manager. Moreover, In order to gain compliance (employees are obedient to managers), women or men should act based on their gender role (Simorangkir, 2010).
Practitioners from the European countries suggest that women have better communication skills than men (Frohlich and Peters, 2006;Lindley, 2006).
Based on Grunig, Toth and Hon (2001), many women are attracted to PR industry because they think they are qualified in overcoming the challenges and obstacles in the field more than in any other fields and are able to achieve professional status. Consequently, it leads to feminization in public relations industry in Indonesia.
However, women PR practitioners in Indonesia still faced gender inequality and glass ceiling.
Based on Human Development Index, Indonesia is still struggling its gender inequality gap. Gender inequality is emerged because of multiple reasons such as social norms, differences of education levels, lack of access to general and financial services and cultural factors ( Sapiie , 2017). Moreover, although women dominated the public relations profession, they are predominantly in the lower to middle level management rather than upper management level (Grunig, Toth & Hon, 2001).
It seems inevitable that working as a public relations require practitioners to display the emotions which are not sincere and genuine in some degree. It is possible since this job involve dealing with clients and different kind of publics. As stated by Mann (1997), the work involved in managing emotions in the workplace by either displaying appropriate emotions or suppressing inappropriate ones is called “emotional labour”.
It is reasonable to argue that the more often the frequency and the longer the duration of interaction could require greater emotional labour. As explained by James in Emotional Labour: Skill and Work in the Social Regulation of Feelings, displaying organizationally-sanctioned emotions to customers or clients has been argued to be a form of “labor” since it requires effort, planning, anticipating, and adjustment to situational factors in order to publicly display emotions that employees may not necessarily privately feel (Morris, J.A & Feldman, D.C, 1997). Therefore, in some extent emotional labour could lead to emotional exhaustion which makes the workers feel drained and frustrated. In a long run, this could indirectly lower job satisfaction and quitting intentions.
Another point is women and men differ in the way they interact with others. Women tend to display warmth and liking, emotions that constitute a successful means to maintain relationships (Brody, 1985; Rafaeli and Sutton, 1987).
Another researchers also pointed out that, women tend to developed nurturance and provide more social support to others rather than men. Therefore, it is argued that women are often expected to perform more emotional labour since they are more responsive to display rules on managing emotions at work rather than men (Walsh, G and Bartikowski, B, 2011).
Written by : Group of Kelas Khusus International (KKI) Communication Studies Student, University of Indonesia : Sherlya, Ghina, Laras, Rachel, Chandra.