Let’s talk about equality in Project Management

I was recently sent a link to an article from a Project Management training provider about what people who work in Project Management want for Valentines Day. This post, unfortunately, wasn’t talking about a great training opportunity like I was expecting or about how we can level the playing field equality. It instead, focused on how:

For women, Valentine’s Day signifies hearts and flowers and, for ladies who are romantically entangled, it is a day when the man in their lives has to live up to expectations. For men in this situation, particularly those with certificates in project management, Valentine’s Day is when they learn the true meaning of a mandatory constraint on the schedule”.

After reading this blog post, I checked when it was written and low and behold it wasn’t from 1950 as I suspected; instead it was from January 2017. I’d like to think very positively and this post was intended as a ‘tongue in cheek’ take on Valentines Day but in this day and age, aren’t we passed the times of belittling women in Professional roles?

There are some fantastic women Project Managers and there are numerous studies available regarding the inequality that exists in our field. It’s very disappointing that instead of embracing the diversity, skills, and experience that women bring to the table, we have established training providers reducing down their qualities to stereotypes and presuming that only men can understand the “true meaning of a mandatory constraint on the schedule”.

My first introduction to Project Management was through a fantastic female boss who showed me what Project Management ‘really was’ and helped to guide me through my own journey in Project Management. She also showed me that not only does the glass ceiling exist but it’s vital that we work our hardest to break down those barriers and demand fair treatment in comparison to our male counterparts. According to a survey by the APM, there are only 28% women listed as Project Professionals and for those that do work in the profession, they can struggle with gaining sufficient experience and earning a considerable amount less than their male counterparts.

Let’s talk hard cash for a moment. It’s interesting to note that Iceland is the only country in the world with a law demanding equal wages for both men and women whereas countries like the UK still acknowledge a 18% pair gap in the pay ratio between men and women. I’ve seen this happen very recently. A male counterpart and I were going for the same freelance position and when asked for our hourly rate, we gave the same amount. We have the same years of experience and qualifications so it wasn’t to be unexpected. I received a prompt reply that “that pay rate would never be accepted” and instead offering me an hourly rate of 20% less. When I spoke to my male counterpart about this, he said that he received no such thing and instead had been told that it wasn’t a problem. How did I react to this? Well, I made the vow to never work with this particular company again and to his credit, my male counterpart made a point of mentioning this to the head of the company as ‘a significant area of improvement’.

As a female Project Manager who works predominantly in a field of men, I am used to banter but I can count the number of times when that banter has been against my gender. I was always taught that we are all equal and it’s all about how hard we work and how good we are at our jobs. I’ll continue to try and prove this moving forward.

So, what can you do if you see inequality happening? What can you do to make sure that your organisation and working environment is as fair as possible? As women, we must keep demanding more. Making sure that we’re getting the training that we’re entitled to, pushing the barriers to ensure fair play in the workplace. Ladies, it’s 2018 and it’s time that things were equal and we must keep showing the inequality that exists in our industry.

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