The ceiling's made of structural steel, not glass: Barriers to advancement of women in public relations and communications management

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


Elizabeth L. Toth


Women workers, Barriers to advancement, Public relations, Communications management

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Business | Communication | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Management Sciences and Quantitative Methods | Mass Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Women's Studies


The glass ceiling persists for women in public relations and communications management, despite increasing feminization of these fields. This qualitative study seeks to identify factors at work in support for, and continuation of, the problem of the glass ceiling for women in public relations and corporate communications management.

In-depth interviews and focus groups were used to allow 27 women to give their views on the glass ceiling. Five factors contributing to the glass ceiling were identified, as were a number of strategies women can use to overcome the glass ceiling.

The researcher examines the findings from both a radical feminist and liberal feminist perspective. Recommendations for teachers, students and practitioners are included in the study, as are the personal stories of these 27 women who worked as managers in both agency and corporate environments.


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