The latest thoughts and opinion from APM

Women in project management

Today, International Women’s Day, APM’s Women in Project Management group is holding a sold-out event on how women can improve their negotiation skills in the workplace.

If you go by the recent research by Robert Half, women on average earn £300,000 less than men over their working lifetimes. 

Salary negotiation on its own is not sufficient to cover that kind of gap.

Last month, the Government decided to use peer group pressure to try to encourage change. It announced that 8,000 organisations employing over 250 employees would have to gather information on gender pay from April 2017 and publish annually on their websites from April 2018:

  • Salaries and bonuses relating to male and female staff. 
  • Mean and median figures of men’s and women’s salaries.
  • Number of men and women within each pay range in the organisation’s pay distribution. 

We can expect this new requirement to embrace a number of our members. 79% of respondents to APM’s Market Trends and Salary Survey (published May 2015) said they worked for organisations employing over 250 people.

The Government will publish from 2018 an annual league table of the pay gap by sector. It says that the gender pay gap in sectors such as engineering “is among the worst across business”. The Government also announced an ambition to see 15,000 more entries by girls to maths and sciences A levels by 2020 – around a 20% increase on current numbers. Some 24% of girls’ entries to A levels are in maths and sciences, compared to almost four in ten for boys.

The problem is clear. As Gabrielle Oakley said at WIPM’s Annual Conference in 2015: 

The 5Cs (caring, cashiering, cleaning, catering, clerical) reflect 75% of female employment. 

A new analysis of the APM Market Trends and Salary Survey (sample size of 2717) has shown:

  • 28% of project professionals are women
  • Women in project management tend to be younger: 46% of all male respondents were over 45 whereas for females this was 27%.  36% of female participants were under 35 compared to 24% of men.
  • They tend to have less experience: 43% of females have less than 5 years of experience compared to 24% of men.  Only 6% of females have more than 20 years of PM experience compared to 22% of males.
  • Away from the role of Project Manager, which has very similar statistics, women in project management seem to occupy more junior roles: 14% work in programme or project support compared to 6% of men.  Only 1% of females work as Company/Board Directors vs. 4% of males.
  • And women earn less than men: 74% of females earn £49,999 or less whereas 49% of men earn between £50k and £100k and above.

Today I can announce that, in the 2016 version of this survey, we will be exploring a wider range of issues including more in-depth coverage of diversity and the impact of career breaks: why these are undertaken and whether individuals felt these affected their career prospects.

In this way, APM will be able to take a better informed view, as part of its work to support a profession that is more representative of the society it serves, and better able to benefit from untapped talent and skills.

Project managers are very welcome to join our Women in Project Management group. It runs a number of lively and well attended events during the year, including an excellent conference. 


Sara Drake is Chief Executive at APM.