IPMA International Project Management Association
12 March 2018 / 8:14

Celebrating Differences makes the Difference

Project management has been characterized as a “macho profession” in the 1990s (Cartwright, 1995). In the 20th century a successful project manager was a tough, hard-working guy who impressed his team and the stakeholders by his mental and physical power. Following literally the quote “actions speak louder than words” a project manager would have also lend a hand with the realization of the necessary tasks himself.

Times have changed within the last 20 years: today a successful project manager is one who can manage relationships, who can deal with the complexity and uncertainty, who is able to cope with different cultures, who shows emotional intelligence, can listen carefully, is able to build up trust and to solve conflicts. We observe a shift in the profession from a technological planning and control based discipline towards the focus on interactions and inter-human competences. Competences that are linked to women.

Women were never in history better educated than today. By nature women tend to be good natural team players with psychological competences, good intuition, the capability to integrate, they are creative and flexible – they are good in many competence areas of todays interconnected project life. The bi-annual career and income study in Project Management in Germany and Austria shows that female project managers are better educated and higher qualified than their male colleagues. However women still fail in climbing the project career ladder, they remain in the lower management positions with lower income. Obviously good education and profound competences are not enough to reach senior management positions.

But corporations and economies cannot afford to waste these talents any longer. In their annual study on Women in the Workplace 2016 McKinsey and LeanIn found out that 87 % of the CEO´s of the researched companies see gender equality as their top priority. Why are they doing so? Having more women as project managers will lead to different approaches how projects are planned and directed. Women change the way how projects are managed. This includes the leadership and communication style, team development processes, or the way of coping with new challenges in projects. The 2nd Diversity in Project Management conference 2018 by IPMA takes place from June 7th – 9th  in Croatia. The theme of this year´s conference is “Celebrating Differences makes the Difference”. The conference will deal with the challenges that differences bring to an organization i.e. diversity into the staffing of project teams and how to come to more diverse project teams in a world where diversity is not yet the key. How to bring along the ruling class of mainly Caucasian men and the feeling that more of the same won’t bring the required success anymore in a more and more diverse world? How to overcome the challenges and conflicts that can derive from diverse, heterogeneous project teams? The conference wants to show best practice approaches to create a high-performance team out of a formerly group of culturally diverse individuals and other instruments than quotas to bring in a more diverse workforce in organizations.
There is a call for paper for presentations (academic or professional), the dateline for submitting the abstracts is March 30th, 2018. The best papers will be published in the OTMC journal  or the European Project Management Journal. The submission of abstracts, papers and presentations is sent to [email protected]

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Yvonne Schoper

Author of this post

Dr. Yvonne Schoper is Professor for International Project Management at HTW University of Applied Sciences Berlin.
Dr. Schoper holds a BSc in Engineering Management, an MSc International Business and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering.
She worked as a project manager for BMW where she was responsible for several international automotive development projects in USA and in Germany.
Since 2009 she is associate Professor for Project Management at the Tongji University in Shanghai (China).
Her research interests are intercultural project management, future trends in project management, women in project management and the further development of the profession of project managers.
From 2012-2015 she was Executive Board member of GPM Germany where she was responsible for research. Since 2015 she is the delegate of Germany at IPMA´s Council of Delegates. Since 2016 she is member of the Presidential Advisory Board of GPM.