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Research shows women don’t want management jobs

WomanIntellect’s Women in IT Forum and recently released the results of their survey about women working in the technology profession.

The survey shows that although 8% of women have reached director-level roles, up 3% on 2007, many women are not interested in pursuing pure management roles and want to remain doing hands on, technical jobs. In the IT project management field this equates to women wanting to stick with being project managers and not aspiring to lead a PMO or move into portfolio management.

Groups like the APM’s Women in Project Management SIG exist to support and promote women in project management. Informally, A Girl’s Guide to Project Management does the same. Are we wrong in trying to encourage more women into senior roles? Maybe the reason why we don’t get directorships is because we don’t want them.

I don’t believe this is true. I am sure there are many men happy doing technical, hands on, non-managerial roles as well. Why shouldn’t that type of work appeal to women too? Not everyone wants the stress and people-management responsibilities that come with being a senior manager.

Mixed support for developing women’s careers

Some women, the ones who do want a management career, need to know that the workplace supports their advancement.

However, the statistics don’t completely support that. Over 60% of respondents in the Intellect/WiT survey have more than 10 years of experience but only 26% have reached senior management level. Many of the others reported feeling that they are being passed over for promotion in favour of male colleagues. Over a third of respondents said they had left their last position due to a lack of internal promotion.

Fortunately, thing looks a bit better when it comes to the work/life balance options on offer. Eighty percent of companies offer remote working options, with 71% of survey respondents taking up this option. This seems a lot to me, but as the survey focused on IT professionals it could be that technology companies and IT departments are more forward-thinking when it comes to the kit and the policies to work from home.

Being a woman is not (very) detrimental to your career

Nearly two thirds of respondents agree that being a woman has not been detrimental to their career in technology. Flip that statistic round, and it means that two in five women believe that being a woman has hampered them in some way.

The survey doesn’t expound on exactly how, but here are some of the findings from that section:

  • 47% believe that to get ahead in a tech career, you have to act like a man (whatever that means)
  • 75% believe that technology employers have a long hours culture
  • 84% believe that more should be done to encourage women back to work after maternity leave.

The important thing is that whether you want to move into management or not, all women should feel that their IT project management careers are supported by the company, and that whatever options they want are open to them. What are your experiences of project management career development? Let us know in the comments.

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About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin FAPM is a professional project manager and award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.
Elizabeth lives in the UK with her family. She uses her organisation and project management skills at home, and also to help other bloggers at Totally Organised Blogging.


    • Elizabeth says

      I’m not aware of any research studies that show that studying maths and science make people more assertive or lead to higher paid or management careers. David, if you have any links or more information about this, please do share them.

    • Mary Hale says

      Females are biologically programmed to gravitated more toward the softer subjects. Males are more often geared toward STEM subjects. It may not be “PC,” but it is true.

      • Elizabeth Harrin says

        This study particularly related to IT professionals. However, in general I wouldn’t say management is a STEM subject.

  1. Laura says

    I’ve been following this blog for a while and I am just appalled by this post.

    While it seems that you are saying you support women in management (in the last sentence), the title, post structure are telling me (a woman project manager, who leads our pm team) that women don’t belong in management.

    We know that people skim read and that headlines catch the eye. 

    To report on a study that shows that some? women don’t want to be in management with the heading ‘Women don’t want management jobs’ is irresponsible. (your link is broken so I can’t actually check how many women)


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