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May 28 – 30, 2017

Virginia  McKendry, PhD

Virginia McKendry, PhD

PAPER PRESENTATION: Narratives of Pioneering Women in Public Relations on Vancouver Island

As in other countries, Canadian women in PR get paid less and wield significantly less power than male counterparts, and yet they dominate the PR landscape in sheer numbers. To learn more about what attracts women to PR work and how professional associations and educational institutions can best support them, six "pioneering" PR women from the Vancouver Island area were invited to tell their stories of life as a PR professional. Findings reveal patterns in the role women have played in the formation of PR as a career path, professionalization of PR, and development of PR education, and what it has felt like along the way. Their reflections on their lived experience of PR work produced benefits and challenges of being a woman in PR, suggesting concrete ways to support younger women (and men) in considering PR as a career pathway and successfully navigating the realities of how gender shapes workplaces and professional identities.


Dr. Virginia McKendry is an associate professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Royal Roads University, located in Victoria, BC, Canada. Her interests in narrative, dialogic, rhetorical, semiotic, and critical theoretical frameworks connect her diverse research interests in gender and leadership, critical feminist studies of public relations, public relations history, and the rhetorical power of gender stereotypes and family values metaphors in political communication and national cultures. She holds both a Bachelor of General Studies (1991) and a Master of Arts in Women’s Studies (1993) from Simon Fraser University, and a PhD in History from York University [Toronto, Canada] (1998).

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