Take your project career to new heights with AIPM membership. Join now to unlock the benefits of Australia’s leading body for project professionals.
Take the quiz
Join thousands of project professionals across Australia who have powered their career prospects with RegPM™ certification.
The demand for project management skills continues to grow across a range of industries, and professionals are building lucrative and rewarding careers.
For nearly 50 years, the AIPM has been driving project management across Australia.
08th Mar 2023
We spoke to 6 of the leading female project management professionals to find out their best piece of advice for women working, or aspiring to work, in project management.
Women currently make up 25% of our membership, which has increased slightly from 22% in 2020. This seems to be about the norm amongst the project management profession globally, but that doesn’t mean we should accept it. It’s crucial to address this gender imbalance through challenging unconscious biases and stereotypes, as well as promoting diversity and inclusion.
Maria Dalla-Fontana MAIPM, Manager – Space, Science and Technology for the Tasmanian Department of State Growth and AIPM Tasmania Chapter President suggests to “Demand a flexible workplace for all employees, which will increase the supply chain of expertise within the organisation.”
Fortunately, since the COVID pandemic, flexibility and days working from home have become more common to improve work-life balance. This is key for women who are juggling caregiving responsibilities, childcare or school drop off and picks up, and outside sport or other activities.
“Balancing the needs of my family with the demands of professional life is an artform.
It’s important to shape the culture that you want to work in – you are more influential than you probably think and even gradual pressure in the right direction can be incredibly powerful. Seek out opportunities to be flexible.”
Kestrel Stone FAIPM
Chief Executive Officer of Elemental Projects
Elena Zagorenko FAIPM CPPE, Chair of the AIPM Board, makes another interesting point that, “As we see project management transitioning into project leadership, females are strategically positioned to influx different mindsets, alternative viewpoints, and advanced soft skills into the traditionally male-dominated industries.
As the percentage of the female project leaders is growing at all levels year-on-year, we are starting to see a shift across the industry, with more flexible ways of working being considered for all of those in the profession, whilst achieving the same strong performance outcomes. Despite these very positive trends, there is still more to be done to advocate for and support both aspiring young female project professionals and those returning into the project cohort after career breaks, by creating inclusive and flexible environments where everyone can thrive.”
“Project managers are now faced with being change managers, futurists, as well as managing accelerating projects due to budget constraints. Having solid competency-based training will help any project professional ensure that they are clear about roles and responsibilities when setting up a project as more and more gets thrown at them.”
Connie Beck FAIPM CPPD
AIPM Board Director
Jane Hatton MAIPM, Program Director for the Department of Defence and AIPM ACT Chapter President, says “As much as it pains me to say this in 2023, I think the greatest challenge facing women is unconscious bias – cognitive, personal and confirmation. Why does society continue to criticise the way women dress? Do men get called frumpy? Why are assertive statements from women perceived as shouting or being angry?” Maria Dalla-Fontana MAIPM comments on another unfair bias. “Women are still paid less compared to their male counterparts.”
Mentoring is something that was raised by many of the women. Fiona MacTavish MAIPM CPPP, AIPM NSW Chapter President and Head of Portfolio Management at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, said “It’s really important to have women who are mentoring women to help them identify with the challenges they’re having, and maybe learn from some of the harsh lessons their mentors have had over the years.”
Jane Hatton MAIPM sees great importance in building relationships, as well as acting with authority and confidence, and being authentic. “Remind yourself of your brilliance; own your weaknesses so you can own how to strengthen them, and see merit in failure – it’s a great opportunity to learn, think and regroup.”
We asked our esteemed panel of female project management professionals for their best piece of advice for their fellow women project management peers:
You don’t need to look any further than these women to see that women are breaking barriers and having impactful careers in project management. As discovered in our recent report with KPMG, The state of project management in Australia 2022, 73% of project professionals said their projects experienced staff shortages, so there is more opportunity than ever.
Interestingly, multiple studies have shown that women make excellent project managers due to their ability to assess risk and guide their actions and decisions accordingly, as well as their skills in scheduling, budgeting, and communicating.
It’s clear that women can be valuable assets in the project management profession, and with ambition, hard work, and positivity, you can achieve great things and make a big impact through projects you manage.
Take our quick self-evaluation quiz to assess your project experience and help you determine your certification level.
Answering the questions of how to attract and retain the right people are high on many organisations’ strategic agendas. Jody Blinco MAIPM and Petria Paynter MAIPM look at what organisations can do to fill the skills gap and win over the right project people.
As flexible working is here to stay, project managers should consider and mitigate the associated risks to ensure the benefits of flexible working outweigh the risks.
Project managers play a pivotal role in project success. They’re the central unifying force that rallies the troops to get the job done. But what skills and traits do you need to pull that off?