Another GCSE results day has come and gone. More students getting Grade C and above and yes as in previous years, the girls outperformed the boys. ‘’But why’, the newscaster asked ‘do the girls not fare as well as the boys later on?’ A specialist commentator attributed this to the poor career choices girls make or are channelled into, that do not provide brilliant job opportunities. I was struck by a young lady interviewed who was unemployed despite doing all the right things - getting a first degree and a masters. Surely an extreme case I assured myself.
Fast forward into the future, some of those young talented high achieving students have chosen project management as their career of choice. It is encouraging to see more younger women join the profession. The recent APM Salary and Market Trends Survey indicates 37% of respondents under 35 are female. Why are they earning less than their male colleagues? Are they less talented than their male colleagues? Disparity in salaries, according to the survey, exists from entry level through to senior high earners.
Organisations with specified entry level pay scales commence with parity, but what occurs after this? And where there is no specified pay level, are young women disadvantaged from the start?
It is widely recognised that many women are not good at leveraging their achievements and capabilities to negotiate higher salaries. Research indicates that most don’t negotiate due to lower expectations or the reputational risks and those who do are not always adequately prepared. The burden of achieving salary parity should not be employees’ responsibility. Organisations should have policies in place that recognise, develop and reward talent and their achievements. The top employers for women do.
The younger project managers in the profession are talented, have achieved and surpassed the young unemployed lady interviewed and look forward to extensive, challenging and fulfilling careers in project management. They should be rewarded with salary levels that recognise their abilities now and as they progress in their careers – otherwise our systems and structures are not fully inclusive. There has been a recent call for full disclosure on salaries – will this assist? Firms collating employee data should assess gender and pay parity. Will their findings attract diverse talent to their organisations I wonder?
The 2015 National Women in Project Management Conference theme is ‘Driving the Future’. It will highlight current achievement and vital contribution of female project managers within organisations, their future potential and good practice in developing and retaining female talent. I will be presenting at the IPMA Congress 2015 in Panama on ‘Embracing Diverse Talent’.