By Cyndee Miller
The push for women’s equality is a real slog. Based on current trends, WEF estimates it’ll take another 99.5 years to close the overall global gender gap. And as another International Women’s Day lands, it’s tempting to get angry or fall into a funk.
Yet there are glimmers of hope—and change. In 2019, 87 percent of companies surveyed by McKinsey and Lean In said gender diversity is a top priority, up from 74 percent in 2015. Economic parity is no longer some hush-hush conversation that women have with other women.
As is often the case, pop culture is pushing the female power message, with TV shows like The Handmaid’s Tale or Billie Eilish making history as the first woman to pick up the “big four” at this year’s Grammy Awards. Even the James Bond franchise is learning to be more respectful of women, thanks to some handiwork by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who stakes her claim as only the second woman to get a writing credit in the series’ 58-year history).
Women are driving innovation, disrupting business and changing the world. And many of those women are project professionals. Check out that video above. Those are just some of the powerful female professionals featured in PM Network® in the past year alone. These women are delivering results, whether it was a digital reboot at a fast-food giant or patient-centric healthcare. They get it done. They turn strategy into reality.
Claudia de Moya Partiti Ferraz, PMP, has made her way all the way up to the executive suite, currently serving as CIO of Zaraplast in São Paulo, Brazil. It’s easier than it once was, but it’s “still a challenge for women to prove they are capable,” she tells PM Network®.
McKinsey and Lean In’s research confirm her instinct, finding no decline in the number of women who say gender is a barrier to advancement or who experience microaggressions.
Unfair? Absolutely. But Ms. Ferraz says the best way for women to build their career is to follow the same advice she would give all project managers, regardless of gender: “Remain focused on delivering the project in the best way possible and meeting all the milestones in all your projects.”
Another tip for female project leaders: Don’t be thrown off guard if you’re the only woman in the room, said Asya Watkins, PMP, from EnvisionRxOptions in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. “[Team members] may not be used to seeing a woman leading a multimillion-dollar project,” she says on a new episode of ProjectifiedTM. “You have to be confident in your abilities. Sometimes if you’re not told this ahead of time, it could be a little jarring.”
Ms. Watkins knows the feeling well. She founded the professional network Women Of Project Management because of the void she felt early in her career.
Sarisha Harrychund, PMP, got her own gut check working on Durban, South Africa’s largest infrastructure initiative. “I had to force myself to grow in confidence to voice my thoughts, to assume responsibilities on projects, and to develop a more fearless and agile personality,” she says.
Progress is indeed happening. But now is the time for women—and men—to step up and break down barriers for female project leaders.
Celebrate International Women’s Day by sharing your action plan in the comments.