She’s a Project Manager

Today is International Women’s Day. For my 11 Twitter followers and 4 readers (happy birthday, Haddassah!) this might mean many things. It could mean a reminder of ongoing obstacles at the workplace. Or the current outlook of American (and to much extent, international) politics.

It feels like the hard-fought triumphs of the 1960’s and 70’s we read about or our parents lived through, have nearly washed away. Society seems to be regressing back to a primordial state. Gooey, yes, but not quite productive or intelligent.

“But, David, why do you risk bringing down your readership to two? Also, you’re not a medium. Let’s face facts. A ‘stretch’ waistband at Lululemon is meant as a guide, not a promise. You’re going to need the large. You know that. We know that. Don’t make it awkward for the staff.”

I work in a demanding field. Not a ‘hey-we-need-to-remove-that-knife-carefully’ type of industry, but one that requires thoughtful and quick decision making, diplomacy and the confidence to execute a series of complicated tasks across numerous stakeholders. Project managers must be open to new ideas, advocate for multiple partnerships, and build relationships across a spectrum of ‘personalities’ – all for the greater good, i.e. the successful completion of a given project.

Ultimately, the responsibility for project failure or success lies with your Project Manager, and their ability to facilitate a high-performance team.

Over the years, I have worked with many women project managers (or as I normally refer to as ‘Sharon’ or ‘Donna’ or ‘First Name’. See what I did there? I used humour and sincerity to diffuse a potentially offensive situation. Because my mother says I’m a good person, and to me, ‘women’ project mangers are simply ‘project managers’.) This profession (like many others) is not exactly known for having an abundance of women in a senior role, or in this role generally. I don’t have the numbers to back this up, but I think it’s safe to say based on years of experience. This is a website on Project Management. Not statistics. I’m not a fan of numbers. There’s just too many of them to keep track. 67? What am I suppose to do with that?!

I see the way these project managers are treated. I’ve witnessed it. It’s not pleasant. Or fair. Or random. It can be systematic. Let’s set aside the salary differences (as I believe compensation should be based on experience, skill and performance – but who am I dictate common sense? I tried to persuade Kevin that the medium would do fine, and it just needed some ‘wear-time’, after he strongly recommended against it.). Here are just a few important things to remember today;

  • A Project Manager is like a Vulcan . We’re here to help and guide you to enlightenment. We do not assert our femininity or masculinity as part of the role. Be yourself. We’re suppose to lead and make decisions.
  • We’re not personal assistants or administrators. Our role is not limited to taking notes and scheduling meetings. We weave an intricate and complicated web (my first digital PM pun – there BETTER be some ‘LOLz’ in the comments, Haddassah) of processes (did you know that there are officially 47 of these?!), management structures and documentation across all phases of your initiative.
  • A project manager is your ambassador to the other people in your project. Don’t upset the diplomat. We are your ally, and want the same thing; to achieve your goals and meet your requirements. We’re the Madeleine Albright of the office. And just like Batman, we’ll quietly and mysteriously move on to the next project, once we complete (rescue) yours…but the memories, they’ll be yours forever.

Man or woman, this role demands perseverance, action and thoughtfulness. And patience. And leadership. And vacation schedules.

We are your Vulcan-Albright-Batman. A genderless, hardworking, billionaire superhero with a tights issue.

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