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K-State Today

Division of Communications and Marketing
Kansas State University
128 Dole Hall
1525 Mid-Campus Drive North
Manhattan, KS 66506

May 2, 2022

LaGree and Olsen publish research to help young women climb corporate ladder in advertising, public relations

Submitted by Jana Thomas

Although women have made excellent strides in achieving leadership roles throughout various industries, the advertising and public relations career field are still plagued by a gender disparity at top levels. As of 2019, women in public relations hold just 20% of leadership positions.

To address this issue and enhance career equality for women pursuing fulfilling careers that lead to advancement, Danielle LaGree and Katie Olsen, assistant professors of advertising and public relations, interviewed 31 early-career women in advertising and PR roles to understand how they navigate the first five years of full-time employment with an eye toward leadership.

Their research, “Building a strong career foundation through proactivity behaviors: An exploration of organizational socialization experiences of early-career women in public relations,” was published in Public Relations Journal, the signature journal of the Public Relations Society of America and Institute for Public Relations. The full manuscript is accessible online without a subscription, courtesy of the Public Relations Journal. A summary of key findings is available through the Institute for Public Relations.

“This research recognizes the early-career phase as a pivotal time during one’s career journey that could potentially make or break upper-level advancement,” LaGree said. “How young women proactively navigate their careers during the first five years of employment directly relates to professional and personal fulfillment long-term.”

Research findings point to specific strategies young women should employ to effectively acclimate to their professional roles and professional life at large. These strategies help young women confidently face challenges and adversities and position themselves for promotion.

“We are really excited about the implications this research has for offering tangible, practical advice to not only women but all creative communicators in the early stages of their careers,” Olsen said. “It’s part of a comprehensive line of research we call The Trajectory Project. We look forward to sharing these insights in a variety of ways, including workshops, social media and industry conferences.”

To learn more about LaGree and Olsen’s research, contact danilagree@k-state.edu or olsenk@k-state.edu. Follow The Trajectory Project on Instagram @trajectory_project and LinkedIn. The project offers insights and strategies to advance the next generation of strategic communicators.

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