Skip to content

Levelling the playing field: women’s views on achieving success in the project profession 

Added to your CPD log

View or edit this activity in your CPD log.

Go to My CPD
Only APM members have access to CPD features Become a member Already added to CPD log

View or edit this activity in your CPD log.

Go to My CPD
Added to your Saved Content Go to my Saved Content

What the profession thinks about the progress of gender diversity  

As part of its campaign on issues affecting women in the project profession, Association for Project Management (APM) spoke with attendees at its most recent Women in Project Management Conference, to ask their thoughts on the progress being made to bridge the gender gap and their views on what more could be done in the future.  

Here’s what they had to say:  

Helen Cox, Programme Manager, BBC

What has been your approach to building a successful career in the project profession, which is male-dominated?  

I focused on a variety of projects and things that interest me and working with people who interest me. So, my definition of success hasn't necessarily been about climbing the ladder, but my passion for what I do has meant I've delivered and delivered and delivered. 

We're in the workplace for 40, 50 years…and most of us will have more than one career. It's just about taking your core skills and the things that interest you and trying to match them to a job that you're quite happy to settle into and quickly. 

Have you found so far that, in your industry, a lot of project leaders tend to be men? 

There do tend to be more men in project management at the senior levels; at the project coordinator/assistant project manager, it’s more balanced. As people move through their careers, it does tend to become unequal. There are many more men than women at the top. I’m in technology, so that’s quite a historic and long-term issue that’s being addressed.  


Yvonne Holland, Project Manager Schools for the Future, North Ayrshire Council 

In terms of getting closer to gender equality or parity in terms of project managers in the construction industry, is there anything in particular that you think could be done or are you seeing changes in that field? 

I think there's a huge increase in the number of women entering into the construction field. And I think perhaps mentoring could be the way forward, to encourage more women to enter the profession. 

In the sector I’m in – construction – it's male-dominated, but I think in other sectors it’s perhaps less so. We need to just make sure we’ve got the best teams. The best teams are generally diverse and inclusive teams. 

How do organisations like APM help?  

APM helps women when they enter the profession by providing a framework and also the qualifications, so that they can build up confidence and the competence and demonstrate that to clients and stakeholders. 

What is it about APM that also resonates with you on a personal level? 

I think it’s the integrity. The values of APM really chime with my own experience and my own personal values, particularly with equality, diversity and ethics, and making sure that you deliver the best possible project to the best of your ability. 


Samanta Lachinaite, Graduate Project Manager for Arcadia 

Have you found so far that, in your industry, a lot of project leaders tend to be men? 

Yes. I think in our industry, most of the project leaders are men. I have seen so many different women being leaders, great leaders. So, it's not the case that all of them are men. It's just that I think we're still having that gender gap, which all organisations need to work on. 

It's about gender equality. It's about parity between men and women – everyone – having the same opportunities and seeing that balance across the industry. 

Can you think of anything that might help increase the pace of change to try and get parity between everyone? 

I think to increase the numbers of women in our industry, organisations should consider having some sort of strategy in place.  

Communication is also a very powerful tool [for] spreading awareness about the gender gap, as well as encouraging women to join the industry and pursue this career* 

So, it could be speaking to young people, schools, universities and investing in gender equality and gender affinity groups. 


Find out how we’re celebrating, supporting, and championing women in project management. Whether you’re thinking about starting a career in project management or already in a project role.  

Explore exclusive Member benefits and resources   


* APM’s most recent Salary and Market Trends Survey shows that the gender pay gap in 2021 returned to the 2019 level of 24%. 

The report stated: "We [APM] are committed to understanding the drivers behind that, and while progress is happening in some areas, the continued existence of a gap is also a reminder that everyone involved in project delivery still has work to do." 


Join the conversation!

Log in to post a comment, or create an account if you don't have one already.

  1. Kevin Parry
    Kevin Parry 24 January 2023, 10:07 AM

    Equality of opportunity is not the same as equality of outcomes. In our profession women face obstacles and prejudice from school age and unintentional bias is still widespread, something which will take time to address. That said, it is wrong to conflate gender equality in construction with equality of opportunity. What about choice? These loaded questions do little to progress understanding or build confidence that progress is being made with every passing year.