The Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) has identified ‘diversity by default’ as one of its primary values.

While the percentage of AIPMs female members has improved 2% in the past 12 months, women represent less than a quarter of the membership at 22%. This low level is a reflection of both Australian society and male domination of the industries that are project management based.

Australia is lagging the world in its move to gender equality, despite important legislation having been put in place. In 2018, OECD’s figures show Australia’s female workplace participation rate for 25-54 year olds was 75.1%, compared to Canada 79.1%, New Zealand 73.7% and Germany 80.6%. Women working full time represent only 26% of the Australian workforce, only 25% of the ASX executive leadership team are women and the gender pay gap, although declining at a glacial pace, is 21.3% or $25,717 p.a.

A contributing factor to these statistics is the current childcare rebate scheme, which places significant financial disincentives on professional, university educated women from returning to work. Not only does this impede women developing mastery in their careers relative to men of the same age, but also impedes Australia’s GDP.

To improve the level of women returning to the workforce either part time or full time, both parents need flexible work, and all Australians need a workplace free from bullying and sexual harassment.

Australian women and men have traditionally worked in different industries and different jobs. Six out of ten Australians still work in industries dominated by one gender. AIPM’s membership comes predominantly from project-based organisations in male dominated industry groups including mining, construction, manufacturing, information, media & telecommunications, and professional, scientific & technical services.

As project-based organisations face challenges of increasing skill shortages, leveraging female management talent could meet this demand and also, as indicated by research, improve organisational competitiveness and outcomes.

AIPM believes its female membership base will expand as project management is adopted by more widely by sectors that employ more women, such as health, finance and legal services. However, AIPM is looking to accelerate this change, and address potential future skill shortages by advocating to remove the barriers to women’s progression generally, and project management careers in particular. In doing so we seek to
improve both the profession and the economy.

Through our research, we have identified the eight imperatives that Australian governments, society,
AIPM members and industry need to urgently address to speed up the journey to gender equality in the workplace to the benefit of all Australians.