International Women’s Day

By Sheila Roberts

March 8th 2020 is International Womens’ Day. There are a number of reactions to having a specific day dedicated to Women and specifically in Project Management. Some of these would be: Great it’s time that women are recognised. It’s a good opportunity to celebrate success (no matter who it is). It is superb that women are being encouraged (to be in the profession). We already have lots of dedicated days so why is another needed?

Each of the responses is valid and we should consider them all. Whatever your response we should celebrate Project Managers whether they are men or women. As a female project professional I will share a few thoughts about women in project management. The first thing is that I want to be considered on merit. I certainly believe in equality of opportunity but once the opportunity is available each person should be judged by what they do rather than any other criteria.

What can women bring to project management? If a woman is the main person who is handling work, children and home they are used to managing multiple work streams, multiple stakeholders, communicating, planning, managing risk and issues, monitoring, reporting and handling conflicts. Women can be good at seeing how to make things happen through relationships as well. This does not mean that every woman is an excellent Project Manager. Although there are many skills which women can bring to project management, they are not exclusive to women.

There is now recognition by young women that project management is a valid and interesting career – not the case when I began my career. Project management spans all industry sectors, large and small organisations, short and long term assignments, international opportunities, gives lots of scope for personal development and a career path which can lead to very senior positions. The number of young women undertaking the project management apprenticeship and project management degrees is testament to this recognition.

We should also celebrate the number of women who are role models in project management. There are many unsung stars who are leading major projects, delivering under difficult circumstances, keeping projects on track despite setbacks or just competently getting on with the job day after day. We want to acknowledge the contribution of each and every one of them. They all deserve credit.

There are also women in significant roles in project management education and training. They are trainers, book authors, examiners, academic researchers, and lecturers and involved with qualifications. Women are assessors for Chartered status as well.

I am a Chartered Project Professional, trainer, assessor and examiner. I sincerely hope that I have been appointed on merit and I am grateful to have had the opportunities. I very much appreciate all the hard work of women before me, who had to fight to have the right to be considered on an equal basis. I encourage all women in project management to be professional. Get PPM qualified, seek lots of experience and at the right time become a Chartered Project Professional to recognise your achievements. Most of all enjoy the journey.

So what do I conclude about International Women’s Day (In Project Management)? For me it is a chance to exercise gratitude for being involved in a profession which has given me lots of opportunities, interest and meeting fantastic people, both men and women. Personally I would choose the best person for the job bringing the right attitudes as well as skills. A balance in any team provides the most effective performance and this includes both men and women.

I would like to encourage all women to strive for the best as part of a project team. So the final thing to say is thank you to each of the enormously capable and generous women and men who have helped me in different ways through my project management career.