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The project profession can be a leader when it comes to equality for young women. Here’s how

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It’s well documented that women are typically drawn to certain professions over others. However, it may surprise you to learn that from the very start of their working lives, young women earn a fifth less each year than young men. This happens for many reasons from women being steered towards sectors which historically pay less, such as care work or retail; young women struggling to get promotions; or having to work fewer hours because of caring responsibilities. Here at Young Women’s Trust, we want to change this and we’re campaigning hard to make sure that women are paid fairly and are supported to thrive in their career. 

In our annual report last year we spoke to professionals with responsibility for recruitment and HR decision making about their organisation′s employment. We found that 25% didn’t offer anything to support the development of young women. This was the highest in the hospitality and production and construction industries. Almost a quarter (23%) also said that they would be reluctant to hire a woman who they thought might go on to start a family.  

It's quite shocking in this day and age that employers still think that way. As leaders in the project management world there’s certainly lots that you can do to help create a shift where women are encouraged to join the profession, and when they do, are supported to stay. 

We believe that fairer pay, transparent recruitment drives, more flexible working and better childcare support would go a long way in changing the status quo. We also must tackle discrimination that young women tell us they face on a daily basis, particularly in industries where there is a gender imbalance. In the same survey mentioned above, nearly half (42%) of young women have experienced discrimination whilst working or looking for work.  

It’s also important that we listen and take on board the views of young women. As part of International Women’s Day this year, we asked them what can be done to support them in the workplace. They told us that employers should: 

  • encourage women’s networks 
  • review their pay gap, and take action to address it 
  • ensure line managers avoid making assumptions about the types of roles they’re capable of 
  • share the non-promotable work (e.g. note taking) 
  • offer training 
  • share their networks 

As colleagues, employers can help by cheerleading young women in their team and calling out instances where women are interrupted. 

So there’s a mix of immediate actions you can take to make a difference, as well as longer-term bigger steps to encourage young women into the project management world and beyond. 

It’s great to see Association for Project Management having these conversations and leading the call for more to be done in the project profession. We believe that by working together, we can achieve equality and help young women to thrive. 


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