Women in PM Leadership

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We'll explore the lessons, traits, characteristics and opinions of women serving in leadership positions in the project management profession. Join the conversation!

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Role Models for Women: Why are they important

Our yesteryear grandmothers’ strength, an inspiration for today.

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Role Models for Women: Why are they important

Leadership positions does not turn people who hold them into leaders. Becoming a leader is a construction process where your own identity as a leader is construct through time and validated by others that recognize you as a leader. Like a virtuous cycle, others recognition and reaffirmation of your own leadership capacity reinforce your self-confidence and encourage you to further seek leadership and growth opportunities. Leaders identity is also founded by a strong sense of purpose. This sense of purpose motivates people to push their limits in the road of pursuing their objectives and dreams. When leaders are connected with larger purposes, people around them, sharing similar values, trust them and also get connected to larger purposes. This help people find a meaning to their work, hence motivation.
 
Considering this, we find that role models play an important part in modeling our own identity as leaders. People learn new roles by imitating and experimenting traits and behaviors we see and admire in others. Besides, seeing other actions as leaders being validated and approved by others offers an example of how a leader should be and act and give us guidance. Recent studies suggest that women benefit from same-gender role models more than men do. In the case of women seeking to advance in their positions, finding role models in organizations with under-representation of women in upper levels is by all means difficult. Women development as leaders also faces a double bind since what is seen as self- confidence and assertion in a man is sometimes seen as authoritarian and aggressive in women and very often they are considered either too aggressive or not confident enough. This is why having women role models in organizations could be very useful in facilitating other women find their identity as leaders and encouraging them to take risks and advance in their leadership positions.
 
Role models help us see our potential. They inspire us and help us increase our self-confidence and ambition. But where can we find role models when women in senior level roles in our organization is scarce?
 
I particularly find myself very often reading stories about women who made a difference in their field or community through history. Mostly unknown women for me until I read about them and their courageous and admirable stories. It also works for me to keep me signed up to or to follow on social media pages, blogs, communities or people that share interesting content related to women empowerment and gender equality. YouTube has ton of great material to explore too. I recently find great inspiration and motivation in an entrepreneurship program designed exclusively for women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. Being part of a group of strong, powerful, smart and proactive women really made me feel empowered. Thus, communities or groups of interest are great places to find motivation and opportunities to work on the abilities or skills we want to develop. Likewise, you can find mentors there or in specific organizations that work to help women develop the skills we need.
Of note, role models should be attainable, someone who have achieved a status that is reachable and attainable in our minds, otherwise a role model could have a negative effect and be demoralizing. Real world, known and closed women are a good example of role models too. Personally, I find inspiration in a friend and colleague, Mariela, a pharmacist who recently engaged in Doctors Without Borders and left Buenos Aires to go to a mission in Guinea Bissau. Another friend of mine from childhood, Virginia, a 40-year-old mother of two, who went back to college to finish her undergraduate studies after 8 years of quitting them to stay at home and raise her children. Both life stories represent to me, like many other stories of women out there that we do not know, women pursuing a dream, women with an inspirational purpose, a desire, objective or even a quest for finding a deeper meaning in what they do and expect from life. Brave women giving their most, pushing their limits and serving as models to many others. Just looking into my owns roots, women like my grandmother and beloved sister.

 

Spanish version 


Modelos a seguir para las mujeres: ¿Por qué son importantes?
 
Las posiciones de liderazgo no convierten en líderes a las personas que las poseen. Convertirse en un líder es un proceso de construcción en el que la identidad propia de cada uno como líder se va construyendo y es validada por otros que nos reconocen como líderes en el tiempo. Cual círculo virtuoso, el reconocimiento y la reafirmación de nuestra propia capacidad de liderazgo por parte de terceros refuerza nuestra autoconfianza y nos alienta a seguir buscando oportunidades de liderazgo y crecimiento. La identidad de los líderes también se basa en un fuerte sentido del propósito. Este sentido del propósito impulsa a las personas a superar sus límites en el camino de la consecución de sus objetivos y sueños. Cuando los líderes están conectados con propósitos más profundos, las personas a su alrededor que comparten valores similares, confían en ellos y también se conectan con propósitos más profundos. Esto contribuye a que las personas encuentren un sentido a su trabajo y, por lo tanto, motivación.
 
Teniendo en cuenta esto, encontramos que los modelos a seguir o referentes juegan un papel importante en el modelado de nuestra propia identidad como líderes. Las personas aprendemos nuevos roles imitando y experimentando rasgos y comportamientos que vemos y admiramos en los demás. Además, ver las acciones de líderes que están siendo validadas y aprobadas por otros nos brinda un ejemplo de cómo un líder debe ser y actuar y nos sirve de guía. Estudios recientes sugieren que las mujeres se benefician más que los hombres de los modelos a seguir del mismo género. En el caso de las mujeres que buscan avanzar en su posición laboral, encontrar modelos a seguir en organizaciones con baja representación de mujeres en cargos superiores puede llegar a ser muy difícil. Por otro lado, el desarrollo del liderazgo en las mujeres también se enfrenta a lo que se denomina una encrucijada, ya que lo que es considerado autoconfianza y asertividad en las acciones de un hombre a veces es considerado autoritarismo y agresividad en las acciones de una mujer y, muy a menudo, se las considera o demasiado agresivas o sin la suficiente autoridad. Esta es una de las razones por las cuales encontrar modelos de mujeres líderes en las organizaciones podría ser muy útil para ayudar a que otras mujeres exploren y descubran su identidad como líderes y se animen a asumir riesgos y progresar en su posición laboral.


Un referente o modelo a seguir nos ayuda a ver nuestro potencial. Nos inspira y nos ayuda a aumentar nuestra autoconfianza y nuestra ambición. Pero, ¿dónde podemos encontrar modelos a seguir cuando en nuestra organización son escasas las mujeres con cargos de nivel superior?
 
Particularmente me encuentro muy a menudo leyendo historias sobre mujeres que hicieron una diferencia en su campo de desempeño o en su comunidad a lo largo de la historia. En su mayoría mujeres desconocidas para mí hasta que leo sobre ellas y sus admirables historias. También me sirve mantenerme registrada o seguir en las redes sociales algunas páginas, blogs, comunidades o personas que comparten contenido interesante relacionado con el empoderamiento de la mujer y la igualdad de género. YouTube tiene un montón de buen material para explorar también. He encontrado, hace muy poco, gran motivación e inspiración en un programa de emprendedurismo diseñado exclusivamente para mujeres que se desempeñan en el área de las STEM ( del inglés: Ciencia, Tecnología, Ingeniería y Matemática). Ser parte de un grupo de mujeres fuertes, inteligentes, poderosas y proactivas realmente me hizo sentir empoderada. Así, las comunidades o grupos de interés son excelentes lugares para encontrar motivación y oportunidades para trabajar en las habilidades o aptitudes que queremos desarrollar. Del mismo modo, también en estos lugares o en organizaciones específicas que trabajan en el empoderamiento de la mujer se pueden encontrar mentores que nos ayuden a desarrollar las habilidades que necesitamos. 
Cabe destacar que los modelos a seguir que elijamos o nos presenten deberían representar a alguien alcanzable, alguien que haya llegado a un estado que nos parezca alcanzable y posible para nosotros mismos, de lo contrario, el modelo podría tener un efecto negativo y ser desmoralizante. Las mujeres del mundo real, conocidas y cercanas son también un buen ejemplo para tener en cuenta. Personalmente, me inspiro en una amiga y colega, Mariela, una farmacéutica que recientemente se inscribió en Médicos Sin Fronteras y dejó Buenos Aires para asumir un rol muy importante en una misión en Guinea Bissau. Otra amiga mía de la infancia, Virginia, una madre de 40 años de dos niños, que regresó a la universidad para terminar sus estudios universitarios después de 8 años de haberlos interrumpido para quedarse en casa y criar a sus hijos. Ambas historias de vida representan para mí, como seguramente muchas otras historias de mujeres que no conocemos, mujeres que van tras un sueño, mujeres con un propósito profundo e inspirador, un deseo, un objetivo o incluso una búsqueda para encontrar un significado más profundo en lo que hacen y esperan de la vida. Estas mujeres valientes dan lo mejor de sí, superan sus propios límites y sirven de modelo a muchas otras. Sencillamente mirando un poco en mis propias raíces, mujeres como mi abuela y mi amada hermana.


Bibliography & Interesting readings /Bibliografía & Lecturas interesantes

Women and the labyrinth of leadership. Alice H. Eagly & Linda L. Carli. Harvard business review. Harvard business review 85(9):62-71, 146. October 2007. DOI: 10.1037/e664062007-001

Taking Gender Into Account: Theory and Design for Women’s Leadership Development Programs. Robin J. Ely,  Herminia Ibarra, Deborah M. Kolb. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2011, Vol. 10, No. 3, 474–493. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amle.2010.0046.

A bed of thorns: Female leaders and the self-reinforcing cycle of illegitimacy. Andrea C. Vial, Jaime L. Napier, Victoria L. Brescoll. The Leadership Quarterly. Volume 27, Issue 3, June 2016, Pages 400-414.

The Role of Female Role Models. https://thesocietypages.org/trot/2017/02/22/the-role-of-female-role-models/

The Role Model Effect: Women Leaders Key To Inspiring The Next Generation.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/worldviews/2012/01/19/the-role-model-effect-women-leaders-key-to-inspiring-the-next-generation/

Posted by Fernanda Quinteros on: June 27, 2019 04:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Leadership styles: opportunities for women

Categories: leadership, women

Much has been studied about leadership styles and about the characteristics a leader should have. However, not as many studies include gender as a variable in their evaluations. Additionally, the studies that have done it differ in design, methodology and evaluations performed so though it is tempting to make an assertion about the case, it is difficult to conclude that there is a feminine leadership style in contraposition with a masculine one. Nonetheless, women have been associated more than men to exert a transformational leadership.

Transformational leadership style is often compared with the transactional style and is a model that takes into account different variables addressed separately by other leadership theories like traits, behavior, context and organizational culture that are combined in this model. Below is a brief summary and comparison of both models.

From:https://www.aiesec.nl/blog/personal-development/transformational-leadership-vs-transactional-leadership/

 

The transformational model of leadership focus on team-building, motivation and collaboration with employees to accomplish a desired change. Transformational leaders motivate and inspires employees through incentives and by providing opportunities for growth while setting goals that are aligned with the strategic vision of the organization as well as with the team and the employee’s own interests, values and needs. This style of leadership is proactive and best for turbulent or changing environments. Women are more identified with this style of leadership where cooperation, collaboration, equity and empathy are characteristics traits.

Transactional leaders, on the other hand, use disciplinary power and incentives as rewards or punishments to motivate employees to perform at their best. They are more concerned with maintaining the normal conditions and operations of the organization rather than with achieving change. This style of leadership is reactive and more suited for settled environments.

The transactional style is the traditional leadership style used extensively across different organizations for many years and it is identified with masculine traits like self- interest and competitivity, authority, control, effectiveness, etc.

Today many companies are immersed in changing and dynamic environments where the ability to response fast is highly valuable and needed to stay competitive. The traditional leadership model, based almost exclusively in increasing productivity and efficiency is being challenged. Strong hierarchized and bureaucratized organizations with specialized functional areas may not have the adequate structure for this new globalized environment.

Opportunities arise here for women who generally exert a transformational leadership style that is more suited in this scenario. Inspirational motivation, the ability to create a sense of purpose and commitment, intellectual stimulation and the creation of shared spaces for discussion and joint resolution of problems are all traits and abilities associated with feminine characteristics related to cooperation, collaboration and empathy. These characteristics are needed in organizations that required flexibility and rapid adaptation to change, where innovation and changes are not only needed but welcomed.

In summary, though is it difficult to differentiate and define a feminine leadership style it seems that women are more identified with the transformational one in which more feminine characteristics are represented. Certainly, also men could have them and exert a transformational style. Though transactional style has been the model widely accepted and used in traditional organizations, a fact that may have contributed to the under-representation of women in managerial positions, there seems to be now good perspectives for women with the values and attitudes needed to be a transformational leader.

Lastly but not less, many studies reveal that men outperform women when testing self-confidence perception. We should pay attention to this, it is time to start working on it so as to be able to fully seize every opportunity that arise.

 

 

Spanish version

 

Estilos de liderazgo: oportunidades para las mujeres.

 

Mucho se ha estudiado sobre los estilos de liderazgo y sobre las características que debe tener un líder, sin embargo, no se han realizado muchos estudios que incluyan al género como una de las variables de sus evaluaciones. Los estudios que sí lo han hecho, además, difieren en el diseño, la metodología utilizada y las evaluaciones realizadas, por lo que, si bien es tentador hacer una afirmación sobre el tema, es difícil concluir que existe un estilo de liderazgo femenino en contraposición con uno masculino. A pesar de esto, las mujeres se han asociado más que los hombres a ejercer un estilo de liderazgo del tipo transformacional.

El estilo de liderazgo transformacional normalmente se compara con el estilo transaccional y es un modelo que toma en cuenta y combina diferentes variables que han sido abordadas por separado por otras teorías de liderazgo tales como rasgos, comportamiento, contexto y cultura organizacional. A continuación, se muestra un breve resumen y comparación de ambos modelos:

 

De: https://www.aiesec.nl/blog/personal-development/transformational-leadership-vs-transactional-leadership/

 

El modelo de liderazgo transformacional se centra en la formación de equipos, la motivación y la colaboración con los empleados con el objetivo de lograr un cambio deseado. Los líderes transformacionales motivan e inspiran a sus seguidores a través de incentivos y brindan oportunidades de crecimiento al tiempo que establecen objetivos que están alineados con la visión estratégica de la organización, así como con el equipo y los intereses propios, valores y necesidades del colaborador. Este estilo de liderazgo es proactivo y es mejor para ambientes turbulentos o cambiantes. Las mujeres están más identificadas con este estilo de liderazgo donde la cooperación, la colaboración, la equidad y la empatía son características.

Los líderes transaccionales, por otro lado, utilizan el poder disciplinario y los incentivos como recompensas o castigos para motivar a los empleados a rendir al máximo. Están más enfocados en mantener las condiciones y operaciones normales de la organización en lugar de lograr un cambio. Este estilo de liderazgo es reactivo y más adecuado para entornos establecidos.

El estilo transaccional es el estilo de liderazgo tradicional que ha sido utilizado ampliamente en diferentes organizaciones durante muchos años y que se identifica con rasgos masculinos como el propio interés y la competitividad, la autoridad, el control, la efectividad, etc.

En la actualidad, muchas empresas se encuentran inmersas en entornos cambiantes y dinámicos donde la capacidad para dar respuestas rápidas es muy valiosa y, aún más, necesaria para mantener la competitividad. El modelo de liderazgo tradicional, basado casi exclusivamente en el aumento de la productividad y de la eficiencia, está siendo desafiado. Las organizaciones fuertemente jerarquizadas y burocratizadas, con áreas funcionales especializadas pueden no tener la estructura adecuada para este nuevo entorno globalizado. Es aquí donde surgen oportunidades para las mujeres que generalmente ejercen un estilo de liderazgo transformacional, más adecuado a este nuevo escenario.

La motivación inspiradora, la capacidad de crear un sentido de propósito y compromiso, la estimulación intelectual y la creación de espacios compartidos para el debate y la resolución conjunta de problemas son rasgos y habilidades que están asociados con características femeninas relacionadas con la cooperación, la colaboración y la empatía, características que se necesitan en organizaciones que requieren flexibilidad y rápida adaptación al cambio, donde la innovación y los cambios no solo son necesarios sino también bienvenidos.

En resumen, aunque es difícil diferenciar y definir un estilo de liderazgo femenino, pareciera ser que las mujeres se identifican más que los hombres con el estilo transformacional en el que están más representadas características femeninas. Ciertamente, también los hombres podrían tener estas habilidades y características y ejercer un estilo de liderazgo transformacional. Si bien el estilo transaccional ha sido el modelo ampliamente aceptado y utilizado en las organizaciones tradicionales, hecho que puede haber contribuido a la subrepresentación de las mujeres en puestos directivos, pareciera ser que hay ahora buenas perspectivas para las mujeres que poseen los valores y las actitudes necesarias para ser una líder transformacional.

Por último pero no menos importante, cabe notar que existen varios estudios que revelan que los hombres superan a las mujeres en su percepción de confianza en sí mismos. Deberíamos prestar atención a esto, pareciera ser hora de empezar a trabajar en esto de manera de poder aprovechar de lleno las oportunidades que se nos presentan.

 

 

Bibliography/Bibliografía

-Liderazgo femenino: un modelo transformacional frente al paradigma de la organización tradicional. Thesis · September 2013. Maria Medina-Vincent. Universitat Jaume I. España

-Mujer y liderazgo en el siglo XXI: una aproximación psicosocial a los factores que dificultan el acceso de la mujer a los puestos de alta responsabilidad. Memoria Final (Abril 2009). Proyecto nº: 22/05. Investigador principal Fernando Molero Alonso. Instituto de la mujer. Secretaría General de políticas de igualdad. Ministerio de igualdad. España.

Posted by Fernanda Quinteros on: January 16, 2019 07:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Women in Project Management: Future Perspectives

Categories: leadership, women

In 2017 the World Economic Forum published the results of the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report (1). The report evaluates gender parity across four key areas: health, education, economy and politics in 144 different countries. The economic category evaluates participation in labor force, remuneration and advancement to leadership roles. Notably, after the political gap which is the widest but the one that narrows faster (77% gap that according to the report could be closed within 99 years) the economic gap is second in place (42%) but it would take 217 years to be closed at the pace of today. This means that, globally, women participation in labor force is poor, get paid less than their male counterparts and struggled to get into leadership positions. As a consequence there is a wide talent pool that is being underutilized.

Considering this situation, what can be said about women's role in project management and the future of the profession?

Though scarce information is found about women participation in project management,  data presented in the PMI Project Management Salary Survey—10th Edition indicate that women representation in the field could be estimated to be mainly between 20-30% and that their average salary is lower than that of men (2). This is not surprising taking into account that many of the industries with a long story in project management have been male-dominated like engineering, and construction (3). From the report, it would be interesting to know which roles or positions women hold in the area. PMI Salary survey includes this feature in its evaluation though no analysis by gender is performed with it.

Different studies analyze the future of jobs in a context of technological advancement and globalization. Technological drivers (mobile internet, cloud technology, big data, robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, etc)  together with demographic and socio economic drivers (changing nature of work, the emergence of the green revolution, ageing society, urbanization, etc) will disrupt business models and shift the employment landscape to a future where new skills, abilities and knowledge will be needed. Given this scenario, some sectors will face talent shortages and recruitment challenges (1, 4-6).

Related to project management, we found that rapid change and fierce market competition are pushing organizations to rapidly adapt to changes and to maximize value delivery of their businesses and organizational practices. Organizations are thus increasingly recognizing the benefits of successful management of projects and so project management practices are growing and expanding to different industries, even to those that were traditionally less project-oriented like health care, professional services, education and public administration (7-10). This increase in projects and in project based organizations, named by the term projectification by different authors, is expected to generate a project related job growth of 33% collectively by 2027 (7-12) As a result, it is expected that organizations may experience shortages in qualified talent in the future (7). Given that the proportion of women in project management is low, opportunities arise here to fulfill that need and to grow in the area. In fact, some authors agree that one of the different trends of project management in the future is increase women participation (8, 13). It would be interesting to know whether women participation in project management is actually increasing nowadays since it seems to have increased in countries like Germany and UK (8).

On the other hand, looking at the big picture to the whole labor market and analyzing the perspectives for women we found that future jobs will grow mainly in the area of computer, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is worth noting since these jobs belong to highly projectized industries where women are under-represented. This is not only due to low women enrolment in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers but also to a low proportion of women entering those fields once graduated and a high proportion leaving them once they have entered ( 1,4,14-16). According to the Global Gender Gap Report (1), if gender gap ratios informed persist over the 2015–2020 period there will be nearly one new STEM job per four jobs lost for men, but only one new STEM job per 20 jobs lost for women.

In summary, future growth and emerging roles in areas with poor participation of women could generate an increase in women economic inequity. Concerns regarding a restricted talent pool have increase among these growing industries who are already experiencing difficulties in their hiring process and that will see them aggravated (1, 10). Opportunities as well as challenges arise. Women and project management professionals with the technical and leadership skills but also with a strategic vision, knowledge and understanding of the evolving technologies and their impact in business models and societies will find opportunities and be in advantage. Industries and organizations may need to put their efforts in hiring, retaining and promoting talented individuals that may not yet be considered or that are under-represented. Governments and society should recognize the importance of education and its impact on gender equity and take actions.

Growing evidence indicate that promoting gender parity has its impact in the growth, competitiveness and future readiness of economies and businesses (1). Projects are the way organizations increasingly use to deliver their results and create value. In view of this, it would be wise for professionals in the project management area to encourage diversity and work towards equal opportunities for women in the field.

 

 

REFERENCES

  1. The Global Gender Gap Report 2017. Insight Report. World Economic Forum.
  2. Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey. 10th Edition. (2017). Project Management Institute. Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA.
  3. Henderson, L. S. & Stackman, R. W. (2010) An exploratory study of gender in project management: interrelationships with role, location, technology, and project cost.. Project Management Journal, 41(5), 37–55.
  4. The Future of Jobs: Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Global Challenge Insight Report (2016). World Economic Forum.
  5. The skills revolution. Digitization and why skills and talent matter (2016). ManpowerGroup.
  6. Bakhshi, H., Downing, J., Osborne, M. and Schneider, P. (2017). The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030. London: Pearson and Nesta.
  7. PMI Pulse of the Profession 2018. Success in Disruptive Times. Project Management Institute. Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA.
  8. Schoper Y G, Gemünden H.G and Nguyen N. (2016). Fifteen future trends for Project Management in 2025. IPMA Expert Seminar.
  9. Gemünden, H. G. (2013). Projectification of Society. Project Management Journal, 44(3), 2–4).
  10. Project Management. Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017-2027. Project Management Institute. Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA.
  11. Y.-G. Schoper et al. (2018) Projectification in Western economies: A comparative study of Germany, Norway and Iceland. International Journal of Project Management 36 71–82
  12. Packendorff, J. & Lindgren, M. (2014). Projectification and its consequences: Narrow and broad conceptualisations. South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences, Vol 17, No 1: pp. 7-21.
  13. Future of project management. (2017). ARUP.
  14.  OECD (2017), Education at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris.
  15. Fouad NA, Chang W-H, Wan M and Singh R (2017) Women’s Reasons for Leaving the Engineering Field. Front. Psychol. 8:875.
  16. Scott, A., F. K. Klein and U. Onovakpuri (2017). Tech Leavers Survey: A First-of-its-Kind Analysis of Why People Voluntarily Left Jobs in Tech.
Posted by Fernanda Quinteros on: October 15, 2018 08:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)
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