It will come as no surprise to learn that not only are there more men than women who have PMP Certification, but what is astounding is that in the last 10+ years, the numbers have not changed significantly. In general, male project managers, including those that are PMP certified, outnumber women by a ratio of more than 2 to 1. Recent figures show that 68% of PMPs are men, and 32% are women. Also, as we all know from PMI’s salary surveys, PMP holders earn an average of 20% more than non-PMP certified managers, which means that the lack of female PMPs impacts gender economic inequality.
Though I am a man, my daughter is still under the age of 10, and, therefore, I always feel compelled to advocate for her rights as they affect her currently and in the future. And although taking the PMP is not a right, promoting more participation from women in the management area is something I feel is worthwhile for many reasons. Aside from making further progress in gender equality, assisting and promoting women in the management arena is also a matter of economics and resource management. Women make up close to half the global population at 49.6%, according to a World Bank report from 2019. Therefore, the wealth of staffing resources we are neglecting is enormous.
According to a 2017 PMI report titled “Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap,” demand for project managers through 2027 is growing faster than in other occupations. Additionally, the “project management-oriented labor force in seven project-oriented sectors is expected to grow by 33 percent, or nearly 22 million new jobs” through 2027. And although the recent pandemic crisis will skew these figures, eventually, we will. Furthermore, new demands based on the pandemic crisis, worldwide sustainability goals, and the global economy mean that PMPs’ demand might be even higher. Therefore, with all the new challenges, does it not make sense to use all the resources we have, such as our underutilized female labor force?
In addition to adding more people to our workforce by including more women, we also gain traits and skills to our teams, which might be missing. For example, and ignoring generalities and stereotypes, women are more prone to be empathetic, listen more actively, are more thoughtful and open-minded, which are qualities needed to lead a harmonious team. This is not to say that there are not any men with these traits, but simply that the female experience has engendered these qualities more in women than in men. But regardless of the reasons, having team members with varied strengths and skills is a key factor in a project and organizational success.
Now, for the real issue, how do we help in getting more women in managerial positions? One way is to recognize the value of our female colleagues, team members, and other staff and encourage them to pursue careers in management, in addition to recommending them for project management training and PMP Certification. And although it will take some time before we change the 68% male to 32% female PMP breakdown to a more equitable 50% for both, the path to this goal starts with all of us making needed changes in job promotion processes; advocating for, and encouraging women in our organizations to seek out leadership roles; and providing mentorship and/or coaching as needed.