Title: The consequences of culture for public relations: The case of women in the foreign service
Journal / Publication: Journal of Public Relations Research
Pages: 139 – 161
Authors: Grunig, Larissa A.
In this case study of a class-action suit against the U.S. Department of State, I focus on sex discrimination in job assignments as a way of exploring the existence and consequences of organizational culture on public relations and, more specifically, on female professionals aspiring to a managerial role. I begin with a look at women’s history in the Foreign Service and continue with a discussion of its personnel system. Taken together, this historical and contemporary analysis (accomplished through a triangulation of methods that included lengthy personal interviews and examination of relevant documents) suggests that despite legal progress and a change in organizational culture, female Foreign Service officers continue to be disadvantaged. The explanation for the clash that led to their 14-year-long legal struggle lies in a strong subculture operating primarily in posts overseas. That male-dominated counterculture limited women’s abilities for career advancement. I conclude that discrimination against women whose work involves communication as part of their diplomatic service also might adversely affect their constituencies, particularly in developing countries.