The Changing Face of Project Management

The Changing Face of Project Management

Project management has often been characterized as a “macho profession. 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, deal with complexity and uncertainty, and is able to cope with different cultures.

Other attributes required include an ability to show emotional intelligence, listen carefully, and a capability to 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 which are commonly exhibited by women.

Women were never better educated than they today.

By nature, women tend to be good natural team players with psychological competences, good intuition and the capability to integrate. They are creative and flexible and 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 incomes.

Obviously good education and profound competences are not sufficient to reach senior management positions.

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 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 as to how projects are planned and directed. Women change the way how projects are managed.

This includes leadership and communication style, team development processes and the way of coping with new challenges in projects.

The IPMA Diversity in Project Management Conference 

The 2nd IPMA Diversity in Project Management conference (June 7th – 9th in Croatia) will address many of these issues. The theme of the conference is “Celebrating Differences makes the Difference”.

It will address:

  • 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 overcome the challenges and conflicts that can derive from diverse, heterogeneous project teams? 

We look forward to the insights and the takeaways from the conference for theses emerging trends. 


This is an edited version of an article from Dr. Yvonne Schoper who is a Professor for International Project Management at HTW University of Applied Sciences Berlin.  


If you enjoyed this piece see our Blogs section where we have written over 200 articles on project management.

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