Categories: Careers, Future of Project Management, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Management, Salary Survey, Strategy, Technology, The Project Economy, Women in PM
By Jen Skrabak, PMP, PfMP
The future is female—but it appears project management is behind the times.
An estimated 30 percent of project managers are women, dominating administrative (project coordinator) roles instead of taking on managerial responsibilities.
As we look at income, women working in project management around the world rake in a fraction of what their male counterparts earn:
Source: Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey—Eleventh Edition, PMI, 2020. Originally published in the March/April 2020 issue of PM Network.
Gender inequality in project management is inescapable—but it’s not irreversible.
In a male-dominated field, how do we start carving out an equal playing field for all? Here are seven challenges we as project professionals should tackle to change that narrative:
- Rethink Diversity: Diversity does not begin and end with gender or physical characteristics. It involves how we build teams and consider varying viewpoints based on each person’s unique experiences, skills, background and knowledge. As senior-level program professionals, we need to consider how to make everyone feel seen, heard and valued.
- Know Your Worth: “Impostor syndrome”—feelings of inadequacy, despite evident success, and the fear of being exposed as a fraud—is real. Women are disproportionately impacted by impostor syndrome when faced with a new project, role or position, as reported by The Telegraph. Gone unchecked, it can act as a major career obstacle.
- Stay the Course: Life’s journey isn’t a straight line—it’s a roller coaster. Consider your strengths and what can you do (not what you can’t do). And most importantly, if you fall down or stumble, how quickly can you get back up? In the Olympics, the difference between a gold medal and no medal is fractions of a second. Remain focused.
- Have a Game Plan: Men will apply for a job when they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications, as reported by the Harvard Business Review. Most women apply only if they meet 100 percent of the qualifications. Go for it, but have a plan. For any journey, you need to assess where you’re at, determine where you want to be and outline the path to get there.
- Take Risks: A little risk-taking can go a long way. It’s not always about whether you succeed or fail, it’s about gaining lessons learned. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo—women can be the leaders of change, too. And don’t get too comfortable: Remember that the skills that got you where you are today may not get you to where you want to be in the future.
- Make Your Voice Heard: Amplify who you are. Seek out sponsors who are more senior and will advocate for your career trajectory in an organization. First, build trust by performing well. Then, raise your hand to volunteer for opportunities. Make your value visible by speaking up and driving results.
- Visualize Your Goals: As part of your plan, chart out specific, realistic and measurable goals. Break down your progress into clear milestones.
Earlier this month, we celebrated International Women’s Day and honored the women leading project management into the future. How are you empowering women to grow within the project management field and in your organization?