APM report reveals barriers for women in industry

A survey by Association for Project Management (APM) has revealed the differences between what male and female project professionals consider to be the biggest barrier to women entering the profession.


The survey of 1,000 project professionals (from junior to director level) was undertaken with research company Censuswide. It showed that of the 308 female respondents, a third (33.4 per cent) said that unequal pay is the main barrier, followed by gender stereotyping (32.5 per cent) and not enough women having taken STEM subjects while studying at school, college or university (29 per cent).

However, among the male respondents, the most common reason as to why more women aren’t joining the profession was cited as being the perception that the industry is male dominated (31.5 per cent of male respondents).

APM’s survey also highlighted the different opinions of project professionals within different industry sectors. In engineering, 43 per cent said gender stereotyping is the biggest barrier for women entering their profession.

In technology, unequal pay was considered the biggest barrier to women entering project management as a career (40 per cent), whilst too few women taking STEM subjects at school was considered the biggest barrier for women entering transport and logistics (35 per cent) and construction (40 per cent).

“As the chartered body for the project profession, we would call on men in the profession – especially those with responsibility for hiring new people into the workplace – to take close heed of these findings and to be mindful of how their own perceptions of issues around equality may differ from the actual experiences of women,” said Professor Adam Boddison, chief executive of APM.

“We look forward to welcoming attendees to our upcoming Women in Project Management conference in September where people of all genders will be able to share insights, hear new ideas and acquire knowledge on these issues and many others.”

APM’s most recent Salary and Market Trends Survey revealed a gender pay gap of 24 per cent for men and women working in the project profession. There was some positive change outlined, with women making up a growing proportion of those earning between £50,000 and £69,000 — up from 20 per cent the previous year to 24 per cent. 

But the survey found that women are still over-represented in roles where lower salaries are the norm, accounting for 79 per cent of project administrators and 57 per cent of part-time workers. By contrast, only 22 per cent of consultants, who have higher average salaries, are women.

APM’s new survey also asked project professionals what they considered to be the main barrier for both men and women being recruited, with lack of awareness of project management as a career choice coming out on top (30 per cent), followed by a lack of skilled individuals (28 per cent) and budget restrictions (28 per cent).

Pivoting to new energy sources (32.5 per cent of respondents), tackling climate change and working towards net zero (32 per cent) and AI, automation and big data (32 per cent) were considered to be the biggest opportunities for the profession over the next five years — for both male and female professionals.