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More women getting into male-dominated project management

More women are entering the project management profession than ever before according to the Association for Project Management (APM), the UK’s largest professional body for project managers. But more needs to be done to close the gender pay gap said Chair of APM’s Women in Project Management Specific Interest Group, Teri Okoro who was speaking in Northern Ireland recently for the first time to an audience of private and public sector project management professionals. “Women now make up nearly 30% of all project management practitioners in the UK¹. This indicates that project management, which has its roots in the male dominated industries of construction and engineering, is becoming a more attractive career option for women. It compares favourably with UKRC research that estimates only 9 per cent of UK engineering professionals are women.”

Teri is a practicing architect and experienced construction project manager who also sits on the Diversity Panel of the Construction Industry Council. She added, “this growth in women choosing a career in the profession may take a generation to be fully realised, but project management in particular appears to be making great strides in that direction.” But she cautioned more progress was needed to close the gender pay gap. Referring to APM's first ever  Salary and Market Trends Survey, published earlier this year, Teri pointed to the difference in pay between the genders particularly at the higher salary bands. Nearly a third of female participants in the survey stated they earned an annual salary of between £30,000 and £39,999, compared to the largest group of male respondents who earned £40,000-£49,999 per year. The research also showed that 6 per cent of males earned over £100,000, which is in contrast to only 1 per cent of females. However, Teri said she was encouraged that 28 per cent of survey respondents were female “The participation in the research shows that 28 per cent of project professionals are women. Additional analysis into the findings from the research paints an even more encouraging picture with 37 percent of under-35’s responding to the survey being female.”

Also speaking at the event which was held in East Belfast was Haroona Irshad-Franklin, a senior civil servant with the Department of Health & Social Care. Haroona has managed multi-billion pound projects and programmes for Central Government such as Heathrow Terminal 5, the National Identity Scheme and the Border Systems Programme for ‘London 2012’ where she acted as an Operational Gold Commander for the border. From starting out in the construction sector, Haroona detailed her progress up the career ladder, and offered advice on how to move up pay grades. “People often aspire to goals in work and life, but few take time to work up a career plan,” said Haroona. She also advised on being nice to the PA’s on the way up, “because your bosses listen to what is being said about you.” She emphasised the importance of networks and allies in all sectors of business.

About APM: APM is an award winning professional body with educational charity status. It has over 21,650 individual and 570 corporate members across the UK making it the largest professional body of its kind in Europe.  In 2015 it appointed a new Chief Executive, Sara Drake, who is prioritising capability development and diversity within the profession as APM progresses towards Chartered Status. A record 16,701 candidates sat the association’s professional qualifications in the last year and increase of 2,300 on the previous year.