Dr Martina Topić is a behavioural sociologist and communications scholar studying wicked problems of social inequity historically and at present, she is a Reader at Leeds Business School.
Martina holds PhD in Sociology (historical sociology, University of Zagreb, 2013), PhD in Marketing, Public Relations and Communications (media & CSR, Leeds Beckett University, 2019), PG Diploma in Global Journalism (City University of London, 2007), BSc in Journalism (University of Zagreb, 2003) and BSc in Political Science (University of Zagreb, 2003). In her first PhD, Martina studied the nation formation in 19th century Dalmatia using the method of historical sociology and thus analysing the role and behaviour of the 19th-century press and political activists in forming the Croatian national identity in Dalmatia. In her second PhD, she studied the British press’ writing on CSR and the supermarket industry in the UK with a particular focus on the behaviour of journalists in sourcing stories and the agenda-setting effects of the British press.
Martina's research agenda explored issues such as the position of women in communications industries (advertising, PR, journalism) focusing particularly on women’s behavioural and communication styles and career progression. In that, she conceptualised the concept of ‘blokishness’ and argued that only women who embrace, what is culturally known, as masculine communication and behavioural styles go ahead in their careers as they become ‘one of the boys’. Equally, in her work on corporate social responsibility, she explored how the press writes on this issue linking this to the behaviour of journalists, particularly in reference to sourcing stories and how journalists write about environmental issues and economic growth, arguing that the two do not go together and that CSR is a smokescreen for capitalism with advocates for CSR being ‘CSR cheerleaders’ who perpetuate environmental destruction and exploitation of natural resources. She has also explored the issue of social class as a wicked problem that continually causes inequality and the lack of opportunities and has consistently argued that equal societies are better for everyone, but one will not be achieved in the UK unless we empower the working classes.
Martina also worked as a journalist in print media in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy, as well as an entrepreneur where she has founded several companies in the past 10 years.
Industry Expertise (3)
Writing and Editing
Areas of Expertise (10)
Equality and Inclusion
Leeds Beckett University: Ph.D., Marketing, Public Relations and Communications 2019
University of Zagreb: Ph.D., Sociology 2013
University of Zagreb: M.A., Political Science 2003
University of Zagreb: M.A., Journalism 2003
- Sociology : Editorial board member
- The Qualitative Report : Editorial board member
- Corporate Communication: An International Journal : Editor-in-chief
- Northern Lights: Film and Media Studies Yearbook : Editor-in-chief
- British Sociological Association : Member
- European Sociological Association : Member
- EUPRERA : Member
- British Academy of Management : Member
- Conference of Socialist Economists : Member
- University Profile
- The time is now for women’s networking: A comment and a call for action during International Women’s Day – Leeds Business School Blog
- New £1.7million promotion for women in Leeds City Region - to boost leadership and aspirations – Business News
- Bloke-ification in a Feminising Industry – Leeds Business School Blog
- Personal Website
- CommsHero Profile
- Google Scholar Citations
Media Appearances (1)
Boys’ clubs and men’s networking still Impeding women’s careers
Research has been showing for decades that women lag behind men in career progression and face the pay gap, the glass ceiling and a lack of mentoring opportunities. My recent work based on interviews with women in communication industries in England has indicated that networking might be a barrier for women in some industries, such as advertising and public relations. As part of a new project, #WECAN (Women Empowered through Coaching and Networking), which is part-funded by the European Social Fund, I led a study analysing academic literature on women and networking from 1985 until 2021.
Event Appearances (5)
What Responsibility? An Ecofeminist Criticism of the CSR Concept
he 6th International Conference on Women's Studies Leeds
Public Relations and Women Equality: From Bernays’ Torches of Freedom to NIKE’s Gender-bound Communities
10th International History of Public Relations Conference Bournemouth
Public Relations Technique of Lady Nancy Astor (1921-1935)
Third International Conference on Gender Studies Leeds
Public Relations Technique of Lady Nancy Astor (1921-1935)
Fifth International Conference on Women's Studies Leeds
How Far Have We Got? A Longitudinal Analysis of Views of Public Relations Practitioners on the Position of Women in the PR Industry
IHPRC 2016 Bournemouth
An analysis of the smoking debate ahead of Bernays’ “Torches of Freedom” campaign through the lens of the New York Times coverage (1870–1929)Journal of Historical Research in Marketing
2021 The purpose of this paper is to analyse the social debate on women, health and smoking in the New York Times from 1870 until 1929. The paper aimed to establish whether smoking for women was a form of oppression and whether it was publicly known that smoking is harmful in decades preceding the “Torches of Freedom” campaign run by Edward L. Bernays.
Mirroring the zeitgeist: an analysis of CSR policies in the UK’s food, soft drink and packaging industriesJournal of Global Responsibility
2021 The purpose of this paper is to explore changes in corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies in food, soft drinks and packaging industries to capture changes in CSR implementation given increased environmental activism. The paper takes an exploratory approach in reviewing CSR policy changes to explore to what extent companies change CSR policies with increased environmentalism.
Introduction to special issue: women and leadership in public relationsJournal of Public Relations Research
2021 Leadership and women in public relations is not on the mainstream research agenda. For example, a systematic literature review conducted in 2019 analyzed 223 papers on women in public relations from a period between 1982 and 2019, discovering a large focus on women’s experiences in their careers, such as the glass ceiling, pay gap and other gender-related barriers.
“The Girls at the Desk”: Timeless Blokishness in the Newsroom Culture in the British Press?Journalism Studies
2020 This paper explores the lived experiences of women working in journalism in the UK. To do this, 20 interviews were conducted with women who worked in newspapers and magazines from the 1970s to the present day. The research was conceptualised using Bourdieu’s concept of habitus and works previously conducted in journalism studies on blokish culture in newsrooms.
Two Englands? Blokishness, masculine habitus and the North-South divide in the advertising industryGender in Management
2020 The purpose of this paper is to analyse the position of women in the advertising industry with the lens of organisational theory and Bourdieuian concept of habitus, to explore whether women are expected to embrace masculine characteristics to succeed and whether advertising industry can be seen as a masculine habitus.