(MENAFN - Arab News) As Saudi women strive to excel in the field of public relations/communications, society's norms and traditions put obstacles in their way.
Many Saudi women entered the field driven by the successful experiences of professional women in the PR field recently. However, most haven't ventured into the private sector yet as they prefer to work with government and charity organizations.
Media and PR specialists see a need in developing the PR field in government organizations, particularly women sections. Dr. Hamad Al-Mousa, a media professor and head of the Department of Higher Education and Scientific Research at Imam Mohammad bin Saud Islamic University, said PR departments do not follow a clear plan.
"Many establishments don't even allocate a budget for the PR department," he said.
Some see traditional work approach as an added difficulty for women as employers adhere to gender-based division of work.
Dr. Mohammad Al-Hizan, president of the Saudi Association for Public Relations and Advertisements, says female government PR departments are marginalized. "Employers ask women to deal with hospitality and meeting hall arrangements," Al-Hizan said. "The real PR tasks are assigned to other departments."
Al-Mousa said that lack of media exposure among women decreases the efficiency of PR work. "Most PR women avoid media despite its vital need in their work. Media skills are diminished as a result," he said.
Only 10 percent of Saudi women working in PR utilize modern technology, such as social media websites, to communicate with their target audience. The remaining 90 percent of the female administrations use traditional communication means, such as faxes and telephones."
Salma Al-Motairi, a lecturer in the Media Department at King Saud University in Riyadh, criticized the lack of modern technology use in PR departments during the First Workshop for PR Officials held at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently.
Rania Al-Sharif, a Saudi academic specializing in information management, said: "The technology revolution advanced services in all sectors, particularly communications and PR departments, and women and their employers should have adopted it to their benefit."
Al-Sharif said departments that allocated pages for social media networks in Saudi Arabia have not achieved the desired goals, because they were not inviting. "They are pages only used for answering questions, just like Twitter accounts for some Saudi universities," she said.
While social media is developing as a tool for PR in Saudi organizations, the new field has a potential of becoming a women's field of choice as it requires less media exposure.