The diversity challenge for the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) and the project management profession still looms large.

In 2021 we have reviewed the changes that are taking place in regards to gender equity in the workplace and provide a spotlight on some of the organisations leading this change.

Following the huge disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 12 months and the consequent recession and forced rapid changes to business models across Australia and the world, it is important to look at the gains and losses against some of these areas that have occurred.

Over the past 6 years there has been a 5% improvement in female membership of AIPM. We will seek to better understand some of the dynamics feeding into the rate of growth of women considering a career in project management.

At the core of this seemingly low percentage of female members is the fact that the Australian workforce is highly gender segregated by industry and occupation – a pattern that has persisted over the last 20 years according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WEGA). AIPM’s membership comes predominantly from project-based organisations in male dominated industry groups, including mining, construction, manufacturing, IT and professional, scientific and technical services. The sectors that employ the highest numbers of women in 2019-20 were health care and social assistance (79%), education and training (71.6%) and retail trade (55%). All are lower paid industries and tend not to be highly project-based organisations.

We expect the ratio of males to females in our membership and profession to continue to improve through two avenues. Firstly, as male oriented organisations continue to improve their gender balance, and secondly, as more female dominant industries become more project oriented, there will naturally be more women attracted to project management. AIPM remains committed to growing gender diversity on both fronts and believes that on current trends, AIPM is on track to have females representing 30% of membership by 2027.

Throughout this report we will highlight how organisations, such as Aurecon and NS Group are driving change and improving gender equity in the workplace, through measures such as supporting diversity, providing flexible working conditions, and focusing on a culture of continual transformation.