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The (Unequal!) Project Management Work Landscape for Women

Business Team

Gender disparities between male and female Project Managers continue to persist in the Project Management sector – and it is women who experience the majority of these challenges.


New research has revealed the professional working experiences of women in Project Management.


This has shone a global spotlight on the gender imbalances that continue to persist and affect women in Project Management careers.


For one, a gender gap exists between the number of women and men working in Project Management. The report makes this very clear. We will explore the numbers related to this later in this blog.


The research also highlights the importance of upskilling in the sector to support women’s transition into Project Management roles earlier in their careers.


This post will explore these fascinating findings surrounding women in Project Management. We will uncover what these findings mean for women working in this profession.


Let’s examine the research and insights in this post to understand what they reveal about the experiences of women project managers globally.


We’ll do this by studying the stats and figures that tell a story about the global Project Management sector.

The State of Women in Project Management Research: What Are the Important Findings?

Male Project Managers Outnumber Female Project Managers in Every Region Around the World

It is interesting to note that the gender gap is universal and not specific to any one country. Regarding this, the largest disparities seem to exist in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia Pacific, and South Asian regions. 

Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, and China report the lowest gender gaps in this report. 

Table A: Showing Gender Disparities by Region

Region Female Male
Middle East/North Africa
Asia Pacific
South Asia
Latin America
Sub-Saharan Africa
North America

Source: PMI Annual Global Survey on Project Management, 2022

Key takeaway: Organisations that build project teams with diversity in perspectives, ideas, gender, race, and sexual orientation, among others, are more likely to build strong and capable teams to serve their project needs and objectives.  

Female Project Managers Earn Less Than Male Project Managers – in Every Country Surveyed

Worldwide, women are paid 20% less than men for the same job! This is despite the fact that their roles are of equal value.

These are findings by the United Nations.

This research reveals startling figures that female Project Managers earn less in every country they work in compared to their male counterparts.

Key takeaway: The gender pay gap poses a significant threat to building an equitable workplace that rewards people’s skills, knowledge, and contributions accordingly. Pay transparency measures can be implemented to identify compensation discrepancies. This can help reduce gender imbalances in the labour market.

Women Use Agile Project Management and Hybrid Project Management Approaches More Than Their Male Counterparts

We found this insight into the Project Management Methodologies used by women versus men particularly interesting.


In terms of industry-recognised approaches, Agile Project Management is one of the world’s most widely used Project Management Methodologies, along with PRINCE2


These are considered the two most commonly practised Project Management frameworks by professionals globally. 


The research shows that women are more likely to work for organisations that apply agile and hybrid approaches to their projects.


Men, however, use traditional and waterfall approaches in their work more than other approaches. They are also more likely to work for companies that use these approaches. 


Women in a Team

The stats:

– 7.3% of female Project Managers work in organisations that are led by Agile Project Management thinking.

– 10.1% of female project managers work in organisations that use a Hybrid Project Management approach. 

Key takeaway: Female Project Managers are adaptable and are not afraid to experiment with a combination of approaches to achieve project goals and organisational objectives. 

Using Power Skills in Their Work To Achieve Desired Outcomes

Women working in the Project Management sector regard power skills highly. Power skills are made up of the following;

– Communication

– Problem-solving

– Strategic thinking 

– Collaborative leadership


Power skills refer to a set of behaviours and abilities that project professionals need to possess. These skills enable them to work well with others and successfully deliver projects. 


The following table reveals how women value power skills slightly more than men do. 

Table B: How power skills are valued by each gender

Power Skill Female Male
Strategic thinking
Collaborative leadership

Source: PMI Annual Global Survey on Project Management, 2022

Key takeaway: Female Project Managers recognise and lean into what’s considered their profession’s “soft skills” more than male Project Managers. Doing this helps them build high-performing teams capable of achieving project and strategic objectives. 

Female Project Managers Are Advancing Into Leadership Roles

We see some positive numbers regarding the progress of women into leadership roles within Project Management. 


Data shows that 20% of women are in some kind of management role, compared to 23% of men. 


We see positives with this data as, despite the gaps in earnings, gender and work experience show considerable progress is taking place in affording women opportunities to advance their careers into leadership positions.


Key takeaway: Although gender imbalances exist in the sector, women are being afforded management and leadership opportunities. Hiring managers should emphasise the opportunity to move into leadership positions for women when looking to attract female talent.  

Project Team

Women Are More Likely To Be “Accidental” Project Managers Than Male Colleagues

An “accidental” Project Manager, as the name implies, is someone who starts out in a non-Project Management role but, over time, pivots to project work that requires the skills of a project management professional.


They are professionals who get assigned the role due to their company/industry knowledge, technical expertise, interpersonal skills, and other factors. 


Women tend to have fewer years of Project Management experience (9.8 for women -11.4 for men) and are less likely to have a degree in project management (37% of women – 42% of men). 


This report claims that women are often  “accidental” Project Managers, starting their careers in different fields only to be introduced to the sector at some point. 


Key takeaway: Project Management certifications are an ideal way of introducing female employees to the project management sector earlier in their careers.


Certifications and courses in Project Management help you acquire the skills and knowledge to work in the project management sector; they also demonstrate your value to potential employers and colleagues. 


We recommend the Agile Project Management and PRINCE2 qualifications to people interested in pursuing a project management career and one day becoming a Project Manager.  

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