A new community interested in Women Leadership has been opened this year in Buenos Aries, Argentina. After five meetings where men and women exchanged ideas, and with the purpose of closing the year sharing all the research done, an open community meeting was held.
The event baptized “Taking Conscience”, began with the participation of the audience through on-line surveys to allow them to identify any possible biases regarding gender roles and their expectations.
Representative touching stories about women throughout history were presented to understand the reason of the complexity of gender matters. Every story included a fight for equality of rights and opportunities during the last centuries, dealing with consequences such as being condemned to the guillotine.
We later remembered remarkable women in several disciplines and discussed what they had in common.
Women who made significant contributions to the information technology since 1843 were then brought up. This proved that the field is suitable to the female brain, and they highlighted the lack of visibility that women have had.
What is going on nowadays? World-wide statistics show that access to top managerial positions for women as well as the gender and race wage gap have got a very long way to go. This happens in every country but in Argentina in particular. Project Management Institute, based on a survey made in 22 countries, counts only with 30% of women. Moreover, they are paid less than their male pairs. In the event a cute video was shown, in which a boy and a girl, through a game, realized the incomprehensible injustice of this reality.
Why is this still happening then? We talked about both internal and external barriers, stereotypes and myths that lead us to this complex situation, limiting us on our choices or conditioning our surroundings.
What can we do to change? How do we deconstruct these barriers? We shared some progress from several worldwide organizations that have set the goal to achieve an equal payment and distribution by 2030 for women, young men and people with disabilities. Iceland is a perfect example of how that goal can be reached.
Gender diversity programs that companies are implementing were mentioned, pointing the pros and cons of some measures. One of the members shared her experience in a corporation showing us the consequences of one of those programs and the benefits it had for every employee.
Counting on the Psychologist Elena Espil support, we shared few advices and tips that allow us to understand how mental models differs between women and men. This can help us improve our ability to communicate, taking advantage of the best qualities from everybody.
Inspiring messages and videos were presented in order to question ourselves about our own misconceptions and experiences.
Everyone is invited to join us next year to continue addressing these topics within the framework of PMI.
During a final toast we had the opportunity to exchange needs and establish connections with other organizations that pursue similar interests.
Personally, I believe the first step is recognizing our own biases. Only then we will be able to change this world into one with equality of opportunities.
We wish you a prosperous New Year in which we continue taking conscience!
On 9 October, I facilitated a panel discussion with Beth Partleton, PMP, Debbie O’Bray (PMI Fellow), Marge Combe and Yanping Chen MD, PhD, PMP (PMI Fellow) at PMI’s Leadership Institute Meeting in Orlando, Florida. These former PMI Board Members shared how they got their start in project management, and also how they were introduced to PMI and came to lead in volunteer roles eventually serving at PMI’s highest levels. While it was emphasized that women and men participating on project teams are “more often alike than not,” the audience leaned in to know what diminutive or limiting behaviors they have seen their female colleagues (or themselves) engage in that lessened the effectiveness of women practitioners. Here are a few said during the discussion.
What behaviors have you personally witnessed – either for yourself or for your female counterparts – where colleagues have given up opportunities to impress their knowledge and skill? Or what behaviors have you seen to be quite effective in female practitioners you have worked with?
One of the great benefits of getting involved in PMI, especially as a volunteer, is the confidence that is built through demonstrated leadership experiences. Recently I’ve been interviewing panelists and preparing for an upcoming discussion on Women in Leadership at PMI’s North American Leadership Institute Meeting in Orlando. Former PMI Board Members Beth Partleton, PMP, Debbie O’Bray (PMI Fellow), Marge Combe, and Yanping Chen MD, PhD, PMP (PMI Fellow) will take the executive chairs to share insights into how volunteering has accelerated their leadership ability not only in PMI but also in their “day jobs” as senior executives.
Combined, they have over 90 years of PMI membership experience, joining the PMI organization in the early 1990s. Professionally they come from every background imaginable – from architecture to civil engineering, financial services to telecommunications, and even medicine (Yanping started her career as a cardiologist)! In the span of their work, they have come to recognize that skills and intellect may be the “price of admission” for a blossoming career, but an aptitude in emotional intelligence is what makes for success. “In order to grow and advance, the skills that are going to count include self-awareness, empathy for others, compassion and emotional maturity,” Beth tells me. In a later post, I’ll share with you their thoughts on what separates the women from the men when it comes to emotional intelligence.
What I have come to value in preparing for this panel discussion with these senior executives is the wealth of their wisdom - each has played coach and mentor to new and experienced co-workers and direct reports. Debbie shared that age and generation play a big part in these kind of interactions. Younger people come to her for advice because they don’t know the answers while more seasoned leaders come to talk because they are comfortable with her and themselves. The generation in between is more reserved - “perhaps they hold some fear that they are expected to know something they don’t, so they don’t ask,” Debbie says.
I look forward to introducing you to these women and their experiences over the next few posts. In the meantime, what do you want to know about their experiences as female leaders in project management? And if you are that “in between” generation (i.e. Generation X), how do you seek out mentoring and coaching advice? Or . . . don’t you? Would love to hear your reactions and real world experiences!